A common question I receive regarding Estate Planning - "What's the threshold? When do I really need to think about a will?" Well, that's a loaded question and it assumes the only benefit of a will is the monetary aspect. So, when do you need a will?
You Have Over $20,000 in Assets
That seems like an arbitrary amount, but I used that number for a reason. If you have more than $20,000 in personal property, your estate no longer qualifies for the expedited probate process and will have to have a full estate administration/probate (depending on whether you have a will or not) after you pass.
You Own a House
If you own a house and die without a will, depending on your family situation at the time you could have a messy distribution of your house after you pass. The easiest way to pass your house is through a will - no mess, no worries.
You Have Minor Children
Wills are not just tools to pass wealth - they also allow you to protect your children. You can name a guardian to take care of your children after you're gone. Most people think, "Yea, but my spouse would still be here to care for the kids." True, but what if you both die at the same time? A will for both spouses allows you to plan for who will take care of your children after both of you are gone. Without it, you're leaving your children to the State's discretion.
It's always a good idea to have a will and there's really no set date or milestone to start planning. If you meet any of the three above, you absolutely need a will, there's no point in waiting any longer.
Do the right thing. Get a will. You'll be glad you did it.