It may seem like the last conversation you want to have with your teenager (or perhaps more appropriately that they want to have with you), but you should consider whether it’s important for your child to execute a will when they turn 18 years of age. There are of number reasons why it might be beneficial for a young adult to have a will.
First we have the legal reasons. If your family has substantial assets, your child might already own valuable physical possessions at the age of 18. For example — cars, collections, artwork, heirlooms — even beloved pets. If it’s important to your child that he or she be able to dictate the disposition of these items, then a will is essential. Second, your child may be left a trust or other assets by grandparents, great uncles, great aunts, etc. The disposition of these assets should be a consideration in any young person’s estate plan.
Next we have the practical reasons. While it’s a somewhat morbid consideration, particularly for a young adult, estate planning is in some ways about planning for the unfortunate side of life. A young person’s passing is no less complicated from a legal perspective than that of an adult. Hours of time and substantial sums of money might have to be expended if a teenager dies intestate. This can serve only to add more stress and discomfort to a family that is already grieving. There have also been instances where several family members pass in a tragic accident and a single sibling is left behind. That sibling will almost certainly be an heir to the deceased siblings, and absent the deceased siblings having wills, the survivor will face unnecessary legal issues.
Finally we have the life-lesson reasons. Part of being a financially responsible adult is maintaining an effective and timely estate plan. The earlier a young adult becomes familiar with the concept of estate planning, the more likely he or she is to maintain an up-to-date plan in later years. Fortunately, this makes talking to teenagers about an estate plan a bit easier. They usually perceive it as an opportunity to stretch their new adult wings and exercise adult responsibility. This is a good time to let your child think about what he or she wants rather than what you might think is best.
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