Estate planning may sound like something only relevant to those who are in their later years of life or who have accumulated a lot of wealth. If you feel that neither applies to you yet, you may find yourself putting off estate planning until it seems more appropriate.
Unfortunately, this can leave your family in trouble if a sudden accident leaves you incapacitated, or if you should suddenly pass away. You need to be ready for any event, no matter what stage of life you are in, so the best time to consider estate planning is now. When “now” is in relation to your age affects what plans you should make.
For young families
When you have young children, the most important thing to remember is setting up their permanent care. You need to establish a guardianship for daily care and medical decisions. You may also need to create a conservatorship for financial management if your children would inherit many assets. The same person can fill both roles, or you can name a different person for each position.
For middle-aged families
With your children out of the house, you may feel more concerned with protecting your assets. However, you should also start considering plans concerning your health care in the event of physical or mental incapacitation. A living will addresses end-of-life care such as life support. A health care proxy allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney is for managing your property and finances.
If you have adult children with special needs, you also need to have special estate plans for them. Divorce and remarriage are times to complete or review plans.
For senior families
It is never too late to get legal assistance with estate planning, whether it is before any emergency or during a crisis. You can get guidance on Medicaid to pay for long-term care. You can update currently existing plans to reflect present circumstances, especially as beneficiaries may change with births and deaths.