If you have yet to create an estate plan, you’re not alone. A recent survey of American adults revealed that, overall, only 32.9% of them have an estate plan in place. Broken down by demographics, the figures show the following:
- 18-34 years old – 26.8%
- 35-54 years old – 22.5%
- 55 years old and older – 44.0%
Unfortunately, the majority of people seldom, if ever, think about estate planning. Why? The most common reasons are that they think they’re “too young” or “too poor” to need one. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
One of the best times to create a simple estate plan is when you become a young adult and move away from home. Why? Because the purpose of an estate plan is not only to designate who you want to receive your assets upon your death, but also to protect you during your lifetime.
For instance, you may well have definite ideas about the types of health care you want and don’t want in the event you become too ill, injured or incapacitated to make your wishes known to the medical professionals who are providing you with care at that time. Having a living will, advance healthcare directive and medical power of attorney in place solves this dilemma and are critical parts of your estate plan.
Keep in mind that, with few exceptions, none of your estate planning documents are written in stone. You can revise, update and even rescind them as your life progresses and your needs change. You’ll definitely want to update your estate plan once you marry so as to reflect your new spouse’s role in your life.
The next time your estate plan needs updating is any time that you and your spouse have or adopt a child. Either way, the two of you have now made a long-term commitment to provide for and care for someone else. Now is the time to revise your respective wills to designate the person or people you want to finish raising your child or children in the event both of you die in the same accident or other catastrophic event.
However, what about your children’s financial situation during their minority? No state allows a minor, usually defined as someone under the age of 18, to own property in his or her own name. Consequently, the birth or adoption of a child is a great time to establish a trust for his or her benefit.
If you plan to use one trust to benefit all of your children, you should update it at the birth or adoption of each successive child, adding his or her name to the list of beneficiaries.
All in all, the best time to create an estate plan is now. The best time to update it is whenever you undergo a life-changing event.
You’ll be glad to know that estate planning need not be an overly complicated or time-consuming undertaking. The professionals at AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc. are here to guild you through every step of the process.