There are a lot of misconceptions about estate planning. One of the major ones is that it is not necessary or important to do until later in life. I can understand that mindset, because I previously had similar thoughts. However, after practicing in the estate planning field, I can tell you from experience that waiting on creating an estate plan is not a prudent course of action and can result in a lot of agony, frustration, and economic loss for your loved ones. In this post, we explore how estate planning can be useful over the various stages and circumstances of life.
Parents of minor children (from birth until age 18): Parents of minors should consider having a Will because a Will allows a parent to name who you would like to take care of the custody and finances of your minor children in the event of the parent’s death. Parents can also sign documents such as a Power of Attorney for Care of Children and Designation of Health Care Surrogate for Minor that can name someone to take care of the children if parents are alive but for some reason unavailable. For more information, please see our blog post.
From young adults to the young at heart: Anyone who is age eighteen or older should consider signing at minimum a Durable Power of Attorney and also a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. These documents would allow someone to manage your financial life and make medical decisions on your behalf. For more information about the importance of a Durable Power of Attorney, please see our blog post.
Marriage: In instances in which one or both spouses has children with another person outside of the marriage, it is very important for such persons to visit a qualified estate planning attorney. This is recommended because if you do not have a Will, your property distribution is subject to the mercy (or shock) of the intestate and homestead descent statutes. These are the default laws that determine who will receive assets in the event someone dies without a Will. They may represent your wishes, or they may make the division and distribution of your assets a nightmare for some members of your family.
Business or Property Owners: If you own a business, it is crucial to discuss a business succession plan. In addition, if you own multiple real estate properties, a qualified attorney can assist with possible asset protection, and management or distribution goals upon your incapacity or death.
So, when is it a good time to start? Now, of course! It is impossible to outline all of the ways how estate planning could be applied to your circumstances in this short blog post. Therefore, you should contact a qualified estate planning attorney who can advise you on the best course of action according to your particular circumstances.