Far too many put off the creation of a last will or estate plan until they are at or even past retirement age. That can leave their families in a difficult position and end up wasting a substantial portion of their assets on probate court in the event of an accident or sudden medical event. In situations that involve minor children, not having a last will or naming a guardian could leave them vulnerable. Do you have someone you would trust with medical and financial decisions on your behalf? Do you have enough assets to make creating a trust a worthwhile procedure?
No one wants to imagine dying while still relatively young and healthy, but it does happen, often without warning. Failing to take steps to guide the process of handling your assets ahead of time can leave your loved ones to deal with a frustrating and potentially confusing estate.
Pennsylvania has laws about dying without a will, but it's better to control the process than to leave it to the courts. Creating a thorough last will and estate plan to guide this process will take the pressure off your loved ones when they are already grieving a loss. It also helps to ensure that your wishes get followed.
You need to create a last will if you have dependents or assets
If you are single, living paycheck to paycheck, the need for a will is minimal. However, you may still want to consider creating an estate plan that addresses the assets you do have and assigning power of attorney to someone you trust in the event of medical incapacitation. If you get into an accident that leaves you in a coma, providing your family or loved ones with written instructions about your wishes and preferences can help ensure they make the right decisions on your behalf.
Once you have substantial assets, such as a home, a retirement account or other valuable items, the need for a last will increases. The same is true if you have children or even pets. Naming a guardian for the care of anyone dependent on you, including elderly parents, is critical to your peace of mind and ensuring the well-being of those that depend on you. Funding a trust can help motivate friends and family members to step into the role of caretaker or guardian when you are gone or unable to support those who rely on you.
Create a last will now and update it regularly
Many people excuse the procrastination related to estate planning by telling themselves that their lives will continue changing in the near future. Regardless of your future hopes and plans, such as having a child or adding to your family, getting married or acquiring new property, creating a will now is still a good idea. Once you have medical directives, basic asset distribution and power of attorney documents in place, you can always update them in the future when your situation changes.