Estate planning is not necessarily an enjoyable topic to consider. Ultimately, you put an estate plan in place in anticipation of an incapacitating or fatal injury or illness, and this is nothing we like to think about. However, waiting to address estate planning issues can be a huge mistake, and it can impact your family and their futures. The time to create or review your estate plan is now.
Creating Your Estate Plan
Many people think they are too young or do not have enough money to warrant creating an estate plan. However, there are many different purposes of an estate plan you might not consider, such as:
- Naming beneficiaries for your property if you pass away
- Designating who will be the guardian for your children if both of their parents pass away
- Giving a power of attorney the authority to handle your financial, medical, and personal affairs should you become unable to do so yourself
These objectives of an estate plan are important despite your age or wealth level. Imagine the following scenarios:
- You are 25 years old and suffer a severe brain injury in a car accident. While you are in a coma for two months, who will pay your bills and make decisions for your healthcare? Having a power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive in place will ensure that your affairs are handled.
- You get married, and you have children from a previous relationship. If you pass away without an estate plan, your new spouse might receive a larger share of your estate than your children, which is likely not in line with your wishes.
- You never created a will because you did not believe you had enough assets and property to do so. When you pass away intestate, two of your adult children argue and fight over who should be the administrator of your estate, causing a family rift.
You can avoid the above situations – and many more – by having a comprehensive estate plan in place.
Reviewing an Existing Estate Plan
Once you have an estate plan, it is all too easy to forget about it and assume you are covered for the rest of your life. However, many life events and changes can render an estate plan inappropriate or even ineffective. The following are certain times you should review your estate plan:
- When you get married, divorced, or remarried
- When you have a child (or subsequent children)
- When the nature of your property or assets changes
- When your personal relationships change
- When you start or sell a business
- Every couple of years, even absent any notable life changes
Reviewing your estate plan regularly with an estate planning lawyer can ensure that you, your family, and your property all have maximum protection should the unexpected happen. It is easy to put off estate planning or make excuses why you might not need a plan, but the reality is that now is the time to create or review your estate plan with your attorney.