Most people understand the importance of having an estate plan, but many of them do not know when it’s the right time to write a will. In fact, people tend to wait too long to create an estate plan simply because they are reluctant to think about death.
While it’s always unpleasant to think about the inevitable, it’s vital to draft a will to ensure that your property and belongings are distributed according to your wishes.
Below, we explain when it might be the right time to write a will. If you need assistance in creating an estate plan, do not hesitate to contact our Raleigh estate planning lawyer at Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A., to help you.
The right time to write a will is when…
Six occasions when you should stop delaying creating an estate plan and hire an estate planning attorney to help you draft a will are when…
1. You turn 18
Under North Carolina law, you have a right to write a legally valid will once you turn 18. According to NC Gen Stat § 31-1, you must be 18 years of age or older and “of a sound mind” to create a will.
2. You have accumulated some amount of wealth and assets
The word “wealth” has a different meaning for different people. For some people, “wealth” is when they have $5,000 sitting in their savings account, while others think that “wealth” is when they have accumulated $100,000 and purchased assets.
As a rule of thumb, it might be a good idea to create an estate plan once you start wondering, “What happens to all my assets in the event of my incapacity or death?”. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to North Carolina’s laws of intestacy as provided in the NC Intestate Succession Act.
3. You get married or divorced
Changes in your marital status are a good reason to write or update a will. However, keep in mind that under North Carolina law, marriage automatically alters your existing will once you get married to ensure that your spouse is entitled to an “elective share” of your estate.
Once you get divorced, it does not automatically revoke your will, but it does invalidate some provisions in favor of your ex-spouse.
4. You have children or your children become adults
Since children are usually entitled to a large portion of a deceased’s estate, it is essential to draft a valid will to make sure that your assets are distributed among your children. However, your wishes may change as your children become adults, which is why you should regularly review and update your estate planning documents.
5. You start a business
If you started a business, it’s about time to think about writing a will. If you want your heirs to take over your business in the event of your death or incapacity, you need to consult with a lawyer because business succession can be complicated.
6. You buy a home
Purchasing a home is one of the most important reasons to write or update a will. When creating estate planning documents, you will have to choose who to name as your beneficiary to distribute your home and other assets to your loved ones. Not having a valid will may trigger unnecessary family feuds and conflicts over the inheritance.
If you are not sure when it is the right time to write a will, talk to an estate planning attorney to discuss your particular situation. Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A., to help you write a valid will and create your estate planning documents. Call at 919-821-7700 to schedule a consultation about your situation.
Gene Chianelli is a tax, business, and estates attorney with more than twenty years of experience providing quality representation to businesses of all sizes and helping individuals prepare a secure future for their families through estate and trust planning. Learn more about Gene and how he helps his clients identify their actual needs and navigate through a broad range of estate planning and wealth transfer opportunities that best meet their goals.