With the term “estate planning” we usually think of mature individuals who have a lot of assets to be concerned with. This perception, however, is not entirely accurate. Estate planning is not just for older adults with substantial assets. Young people require estate planning as well, even though they may not have as many assets as older adults. Statistics indicate that only 18% of adults between the ages of 18 to 34 have a will, and only 30% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have an estate plan.
Young professionals are acquiring retirement accounts, buying life insurance, homes and building their families. These assets need to be protected. If you are at this stage in life, take note. Starting early with your estate plan and protecting your assets as you build is a wise move.
If you are a young professional and don’t have an estate plan, consider the following:
Life is Full of Uncertainty
We can all agree that life is uncertain. However, an estate plan can lend a bit of certainty and peace of mind to your future. Let’s face it, we all plan to live to 100 years old, but sometimes the unexpected happens. With proper planning, you will be able to ensure that your assets are accounted for and your loved ones are taken care of should you ever encounter an illness or accident.
It is important to note that even in the event a non-fatal accident, estate planning documents can be valuable while you are recovering. For example, say you are in a serious car accident and are incapacitated for a period. A durable power of attorney for your health care and finances can be very useful. If you are incapacitated, a power of attorney would enable a designated person to step in and make decisions for you while you are unable to do so.
Choosing a Guardian for Your Children
One important feature of an estate plan is that you are able to designate a guardian for your minor children. Should something ever happen to you unexpectedly or you become incapacitated, without an appropriate designation, it would be up to the courts to choose a guardian.
Often married couples have a conversation with a friend or family member asking them to take care of their children should something happen to them. It is important to know that absent a written instruction, this conversation would not be enforceable by law, and the court would make the decision.
You Don’t Have to Be Rich
Many people assume that you need to be wealthy to justify an estate plan. This is simply not true. At its most fundamental level, an estate plan is created to make your wishes known and memorialized in a way that is legally enforceable.
Take a moment to consider the possessions you already own. You likely have bank and savings accounts, vehicles, jewelry, clothes, art, etc. If you die, these items will pass either according to how they are designated by you, or by the laws of intestacy. The latter may not be reflective of your wishes.
Make Sure Your Real Estate is Accounted For
Depending on what jurisdiction you live in and how your property is held, without an estate plan your property can pass in a way you did not intend. For instance, if you purchase a home and subsequently marry, a court might award all or part of your interest to your children or to your new spouse. Without an explicit estate plan, the court’s decision may not reflect your wishes. With a proper estate plan, you can simplify the transfer and have the peace of mind of knowing your real estate will go to whom you want.
Save Time, Money and Headaches
One of the most loving things you can do is to ensure the well-being of your loved ones after your passing. When you have an estate plan, you will not have to go through the probate process. This means that your loved ones will save time and money. Your loved ones will not have to go through the angst and expense of the court process when they are already grappling with their loss.
We can advise you of the best course of action to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected should the unexpected happen. If you are interested in learning about what estate planning options make sense for you and your family, please hit reply to schedule a Get-Acquainted Call or an Initial Case Evaluation.