Many people think estate planning is only necessary for the elderly and the wealthy. This is a very common misconception. Here are six reasons why estate planning should be on the radar for everyone in their 20’s or 30’s:
1) You Never Know What May Happen
Think you are young and have plenty of time left to worry about estate planning? While thinking about estate planning may seem depressing at a young age, you can’t see the future. Further, many young people enjoy traveling and hobbies like skiing or boating that carry some risk. Doing some simple estate planning in your 20s and 30s can give you peace of mind that is valuable at any age.
2) Retaining Power Over Health Care Decisions
Once you are over 18, your parents can no longer make medical decisions for you or even access your medical records. A Power of Attorney for Healthcare is the way to name somebody to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated (called an “agent”). Without a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, doctors will be legally bound to keep you alive no matter what and your loved ones would have to petition a court to name someone to make healthcare decisions for you. You can record treatment instructions and preferences for your agent to follow in a living will. In California, we combine your living will with your durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions into one document called an Advanced Health Care Directive. Advanced health care directives can help ensure your wishes regarding your quality of life are followed in the event the unthinkable happens.
3) Protecting Your Children
If you have children, preparing a will gives you the opportunity to nominate a guardian who would care for your children if you died or were otherwise incapacitated. Without a will, guardians are appointed through a court proceeding that can be timely, expensive, and contentious. Preparing a will is especially important if you have someone other than the usual choice in mind to serve as a guardian, like a close friend instead of a family member. You can also name alternate or “back up” guardians who would care for your children in the event your first-choice guardian(s) could not. Nominating guardians through a will can help prevent disputes and ensure your wishes regarding the person or people you want to raise your child will be honored.
4) Protecting Pets
No children? For many, pets are like family. Much like appointing a guardian for a child, estate planning can ensure Fido is looked after and supported by someone you trust in the event you passed away unexpectedly or were otherwise incapacitated.
5) Controlling Your Beneficiaries
Many young people think they do not have enough assets to prepare an estate plan. However, even those who are just starting out can benefit from an estate plan. Without a will, your assets and possessions will be distributed to family members in accordance with the law. This means that your possessions and money will legally go to direct family members even if you are estranged or want a specific piece of property to go to a friend, charity, or distant cousin. Preparing a will now allows you to control who would get your money and possessions and can help prevent inheritance fights.
6) It Doesn’t Have to Be Final
An estate plan can be changed throughout your life and should be reviewed after every significant life event such as a marriage, new house, or baby. Remember that the earlier you begin planning for the inevitable, the less you will have to do all at once.
Whether you’re rolling in dough or saddled with student loans, everyone can benefit from estate planning. Contact our office for a complimentary consultation to learn how we can help you develop an effective estate plan.