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Is it time to write a will?

Odds are good that you did not think much about writing a will when you were in college. Maybe you even ignored it as a young professional getting started in the workforce. You only had debt, and few assets, and you did not have anyone else in your family to take care of. A will seemed pointless and you wanted to put off your estate planning for another day.

First things first: A will is never pointless. Even someone who is young, unmarried and who has few assets can use a will. You may have more property than you realize. You may just want to streamline things for those who get left behind if you pass away unexpectedly. Either way, it can help.

That said, you are not alone in thinking that you can put it off. Many people do. Here are three things that tell you it's time to get on it and do your estate planning:

  1. Your net worth is no longer in the red, and you own more than you owe. This is a positive net worth. When you pass away, assets that you own -- property or financial assets -- will get left behind. Something must be done with these assets.
  2. You decide to get married. Maybe you have been with your partner for a long time and you finally feel like getting married. Maybe you only met within the last year, but you know that he or she is the one. Either way, if you tie the knot, it's time to consider the legal ramifications if one of you passes away. Creating an estate plan can help you get things set up properly.
  3. You have a child. It does not matter if you are a single parent or if you're married. If you have a child for whom you are legally responsible, you need to have an estate plan that addresses your role as a parent. It may touch on things like setting up a guardian for your child or passing your assets on through a trust so that they have some protection while your child is a minor.

This is definitely not a full list of everything you need to consider when doing estate planning and drafting a will, but it's a good place to begin. It gets you thinking about the future and about the options you have. You start to consider how the plan could help you and/or your family moving forward.

Just make sure you understand all of the steps you need to take to set this up officially in California, especially if you have not done any estate planning in the past.

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