There’s a huge misconception surrounding the subject of estate planning. Can you guess what it is? Many people believe estate planning is something reserved solely for the elderly population. The reality is, however, everyone needs an estate plan – accidents and unforeseen circumstances happen. The goal is to ensure your wishes are carried out as desired and your family is free from all the intricacies that stem from having no plan in place. Here’s an age-by-age guide to planning your estate.
Estate Planning During Your 20s and 30s
Whether you’re a few years out of college or have just started a family, your 20s and 30s are a critical time to begin planning for the unexpected. While it’s tough to think about, what if you were suddenly diagnosed with an unforeseen ailment or got into a terrible car accident? It’s these types of circumstances that should have you asking yourself, “Who would make decisions for me?” “Who would take care of my partner or children.” “ Who would manage all the details and particulars surrounding my life if I wasn’t able to do so myself?”
During these years, you should begin crafting your estate plan, which would include at least the following:
#1. A Will:
This is a crucial element for unmarried partners and others who, without this document, wouldn’t have any legal rights otherwise. In your will (which can be updated over the years), you can specify a guardian for your kids or determine who would be responsible for certain assets you own. Think about it: would you want to leave it up to the courts to decide who will raise your children?
#2. A Durable Power of Attorney:
By leveraging this document, you’ll be able to appoint an individual of your choice to handle the legal and financial elements of your life if you’re unable to do so yourself. Without having a power of attorney in place, your family members may have to deal with the headache of going to court simply to be granted permission to pay your bills, sell properties you own, deal with your landlord, or manage any of your personal business.
#3. Advance Directive for Healthcare:
This is a document in which you can designate someone who you’d like to be your voice when you’re unable to communicate decisions about medical treatment yourself. An advance directive (sometimes referred to as a living will) is utilized in circumstances where you are either terminally ill or in a vegetative state – meaning you’re incapable of communicating things like life-prolonging procedures. These can be extremely difficult decisions, and a great burden for your family to shoulder with no guidance on what you’d ultimately want. By having a living will, it can free loved ones from being responsible for making these types of decisions.
#5. A Trust (for those with children):
In the event that you passed away, would you want your inheritance dumped on your children as a lump sum at the age of 18? To adequately plan for their future, you can establish a trust that will be used to dictate how money is managed until they hit a certain age.
The good news? Estate planning doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. It serves as a responsible safeguard to have in place to protect the people you care about and ensure your wishes are carried out properly.
Estate Planning During Your 40s
It should come as no surprise that when you reach the age of 40, your life will have grown, matured, and transformed from what it looked like in your 20s. At this juncture, you could have already gone through a divorce, your kids may be going off to college in the next few years, and you’ve probably amassed more money. If you’ve yet to begin estate planning, then doing so in your 40s is a great time to get the ball rolling.
The process in your 40s will still require the same documentation we discussed for your 20s and 30s. What will likely have changed is who you’d want to designate as your children’s guardian or the power of attorneys you’d appoint. Building and updating your estate plan to reflect your current needs and wishes is crucial at this age.
Estate Planning During Your 50s, 60s, and Beyond
These age milestones are a good time to once again revisit your estate planning to make any necessary changes. With an eye towards the future, you’ll likely want to make updates to your advance directives and powers of attorney. You may also need to update your will or establish a trust.
By setting up a revocable living trust, you’re allowing your estate to bypass the lengthy and intricate process known as probate. Trusts are a powerful resource for preserving your assets should you need to enter a nursing home facility. They also serve as a way to provide for your spouse while simultaneously maintaining an inheritance to be passed on to your children. While trusts can be a bit complex, aligning yourself with an expert in estate planning services in Savannah will help you gain clarity on the best course of action for your individual needs.
Estate Planning in Savannah, GA
The most effective estate planning is carried out way before you actually need it. Whether you’re 25 or 85, it’s pivotal for you to begin taking the steps necessary to get your affairs in order. The earlier you begin, the less documentation you’ll have to complete later in life – and the more protected your family will be if an unexpected situation were to occur.
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