The answer to the question of when you should call an estate planning attorney is "Now" if you do not have an estate plan. There is never a good reason not to have an estate plan. You simply cannot know what will happen in the future.
That noted, if you want to hedge your bets and put off calling an estate planning attorney now, it is important to know when you absolutely cannot wait any longer and need to make that call.
Recently, Dedham listed some of those times in an article entitled "Reasons to call an estate planning attorney."
The list includes:
Serious Illness - If you are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, then it is obviously important to get an estate plan before the disease takes its toll.
Death in the Family - If a close family member dies, then it is important to call an attorney so you know how to handle the estate.
Engagement - If you or a child gets engaged, it is a good idea to speak with an estate planning attorney about whether a prenuptial agreement is warranted.
Problem Child - If your child has drug, alcohol or mental health problems, then speaking with an estate planning attorney is necessary so you know how to handle any inheritance the child might receive so it does not add to the problem.
Other Life Changes - Other significant changes in your life, such as moving to another state or getting a new job, may necessitate a change in estate planning for which you will want to call an estate planning attorney.
This list obviously is not exhaustive. Rather than play “chicken” with your estate plan, wouldn’t it be easier just to get it put to bed?
Reference: Dedham (Dec. 26, 2015) "Reasons to call an estate planning attorney."