It is a common misconception that creating an estate plan while you are young is unnecessary, or even “morbid.” But even if you are in your 20’s or 30’s, you need to be prepared. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Sure, we all hope that our assets decades from now are far greater than what we have now. But most of us have strong wishes about what we would want to happen to our possessions and money if we died, regardless of how much we have. Those wishes are valid, and worth expressing in a will!
- If you have children, you absolutely need a plan in case you and your spouse aren’t able to take care of them. Having an estate plan allows you to nominate a trusted person to take care of them in your place. Your will should also include a trust to provide for your children financially.
- Let’s face it, just because you are young does not mean you’re immortal. You are not immune to health issues and incapacity, or to car accidents for that matter. Remember Terri Schiavo? She couldn’t tell us what she wanted, and her husband and parents went through emotional agony and incredible expense in a court battle over her health care. I hope you are never in that sort of horrible situation. But if you are, you can at least make it easier on your loved ones by letting them know what you want with a Living Will and empowering them to act on your behalf via a Health Care Power of Attorney.
- Many of today’s young adults will eventually become disabled. Many will be unable to take care of their own affairs. But without legal authorization, your family can’t access your accounts to pay your rent and bills. They have to file a petition in the court system to obtain a guardianship. This is a huge hassle at a time when your loved ones are already under a great deal of emotional strain. It is also expensive and time-consuming. It also requires that the court publicly declare you incompetent, which is embarrassing and a hassle to undo if you recover. That’s why you need a Durable Power of Attorney empowering your loved ones to take over, just in case. Incapacity happens much more often than we expect.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that an estate plan can wait. Be proactive, and put an effective plan in place BEFORE you need it!