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WHEN SHOULD I START THINKING ABOUT ESTATE PLANNING?

Posted by Debby EhrlichJul 20, 20210 Comments

You might think estate planning doesn't apply to you.  You aren't old enough.  You don't have enough assets.  THINK AGAIN!

Most people think they don't need an estate plan until they are older or have more money, but that is simply not true.  People at every age should put together an estate plan that fits their needs, from something very simple for a 30 year old to a fully funded trust plan for a 60 year old.  Here are the typical estate planning documents and issues to consider by age.

IN YOUR 20'S

Once you turn eighteen your parents no longer have authority to make health care or financial decisions for you.  That is why it is important to visit with an attorney and have he/she prepare the following documents:

HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE: This specifies which actions should be taken regarding your health if you are no longer able to make those decisions.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY: Names someone to make decisions for you if you can't. Power of attorney for Health Care (medical decisions) and Power of Attorney for Finances (financial decisions).

IN YOUR 30'S

Typically, by your 30's you own a home, have started a family and have some financial assets.  To make sure you protect your children and your spouse this is a good time to review with an attorney which legal devices make the most sense for your situation.

WILL:  Specifies who will inherit your assets, who will take care of settling your estate and who will care for your kids if your spouse is unable to do so.

TRUST:  Transfers ownership of assets to someone you choose (trustee) and dictates who will manage your assets for the beneficiaries you designate.  Trusts, can include different kinds of assets such as real estate and investment accounts.

IN YOUR 40'S

If you do not have the above documents in place by the time you are in your 40's it's time to catch up.  Now is also the time to talk to your parents about their estate plan.  Understanding parent's long-term financial and health care wishes is best for everyone.  Make sure they have legal documents for distributing their assets, how medical decisions will be made if they become incapacitated and their long-term care plans including where they will live and how they will pay for it (long-term care insurance).

IN YOUR 50'S AND 60'S

Now is the time to be proactive and create wills, trusts and Powers of Attorney if you have not already done so.

IN YOUR 70'S AND BEYOND

At this point, with your estate plan complete, you should focus on reviewing or updating your plan as appropriate.  Make sure your plan is clear and ready to be executed when necessary.

Remember, it is never too early to start talking about an estate plan.  Our attorneys can review your situation and help you determine the next steps.