When Should I Begin Thinking About a Will?
Would you believe that the best time to begin thinking about having a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) in place is as you approach age 18? You may say to yourself, “No, that is too early. Nothing is going to happen to me at age 18!” But here is what you need to consider:
Under Virginia law, an individual is deemed to have the legal ability to own property (real and personal property) at age 18. Age 18 also happens to be the age that a person can execute a Will. Thus, this is the recommended age to have a Will prepared even though you may live to be 100!
Recall that a Will disposes of property at one’s death. Up until death (or mental incompetency), a person has the legal right to revoke or amend a Will at any time. For this reason, it is most appropriate to set forth your intentions in a Will once you reach age 18, knowing that you can alter or revoke the document at any future time.
Another appropriate time to begin thinking about having a Will in place is the birth of a child. A Will is the only valid document in Virginia by which parents may designate a legal guardian(s) of minor children.
If a person dies without a Will, the person is deemed under Virginia law to have died “intestate”. Dying intestate has the legal effect of giving the Commonwealth of Virginia the authority to decide WHO will inherit the property, HOW they will inherit it, and IN WHAT AMOUNTS. It is highly unlikely that anyone would want the Commonwealth of Virginia to control and dictate who inherits his/her estate and in what quantities, especially individuals who have worked hard and saved money and other assets not only for lifetime benefit but also for the benefit of loved ones after their death.
In order to control the disposition of one’s estate, it is imperative that a person have a Will (or other appropriate estate planning document) in place prior to death or mental incapacity. The estate planning lawyers at Poole Brooke Plumlee PC are pleased to recommend an appropriate estate plan to any person that seeks to establish a plan, regardless of how much money the person earns or how much the person holds in principal assets. Remember, it is never too early to pre-plan your estate.