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At what age should one draft a will? What happens to my bank accounts and debts (student loans, mortgage, car loan) if I die without a will?


There’s no time like the present, especially if you have minor dependents or a lot of assets, or if you reside or have investments in a foreign country. As with buying life insurance, another chore that people tend to put off as long as possible, writing a will is unpleasant and may provoke an irrational fear that once it’s done, it may come in handy – instant karma’s gonna get you now that the paperwork is out of the way.
If you die without a will, then a court-appointed administrator, rather than a trusted friend or family member, probably will make the critical decisions. They are likely to be based not on what you want – without a will, how can anyone know? – but on law or custom wherever you live or wherever your assets are located, possibly both. Certain predetermined percentages would be allocated to your wife and each child, if you have any, and perhaps to other relatives.
If you think writing a will is unpleasant, imagine what it’s going to be like for your loved ones if you die without one. The main reason to write a will sooner rather than later is to give them a break at a stressful time by ensuring that they have less bureaucracy and ambiguity to deal with. Having a will allows your heirs to pay off your debts and distribute what’s left in an orderly way and according to your wishes. Besides, you can do it online for $100 or less, although if your affairs are particularly complicated you might want to have a lawyer draw it up or at least offer some advice.
-Conrad de Aenlle