Should You Write a Will at a Young Age?

A common myth is that young adults do not need to draft a will. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can (and should) draft a will as soon as you become a legal adult (i.e. turn 18 years old). In this article, we will discuss what may prompt a young adult to draft a will.

Key Reasons Young Adults Should Have a Will

While no one wants to think about death or serious injury, it is important that you consider your wishes before it is too late. Once you are 18 years old, you have the legal right to have a say about what happens to you in the event of an accident or death. Important reasons to have a will (as well as other estate planning documents) even if you are a young adult include:

  • You want to spare your family from complicated probate. If you die without a will, your family will have to endure a long court process (i..e probate), and they will not be able to access your assets and possessions until the probate process concludes. Having a will (as well as other estate planning documents) can simplify the probate process and allow your family to receive what you left for them.
  • You want a say in who inherits any of your estates. Dying without a will is known as dying intestate, and the decedent’s assets will be passed down to their heirs based on intestate succession laws. In Georgia, a spouse will inherit the entire estate if you do not have children; if you do not have a spouse, children will then split the inheritance. Spouses inherit half an estate and then children will split the rest of the estate equally. If a decedent does not have a spouse or child, then other members of your family (i.e. parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins) will be eligible to inherit.
  • You have or plan to enlist in the military. Regardless of your age or youth, if you enter the military, you should have your affairs in order. Having a will, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney can help ensure your wishes are honored and protect your family.
  • You have an inheritance or family heirlooms. If you received an inheritance (even if the assets are in a trust), you should outline your wishes concerning whom you want to receive certain assets. Without a will, your family may have to endure a complicated and tense probate process.
  • You have a pet. If you pass away unexpectedly or are in a coma, who do you want to take care of your pet? You can include these details in your will, and you can also include terms about what assets (if any) you would like to be left to them. In many cases, pet owners include instructions on what asset should be sold and how the proceeds should be used for the care of their pet.
  • Your family got bigger. If you recently got married or had a child, you should draft and/or update your will to protect them from “red tape,” and by ensuring they have assets and funds when you are gone. While a spouse and child will inherit based on intestate succession, you may want to leave some assets to other people. If you are not married, it is even more important to include a partner if you are not or do not plan to marry.
  • You have social media accounts. While many social media networks allow you to have a “legacy contact” (i.e. a person who handles your accounts if you die), you may also want to include terms in your will about what you want to be done with your accounts. Do you want them to be shut down or continued? Do you want a post to be made on your accounts once you die?
  • You want to give assets to friends or charities. As we mentioned, intestate succession leaves your assets to family members. If you wish to leave assets to people outside of your family, a will can ensure your wishes are known.
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