Why You Should Create An Estate Plan When You're Young
So, you've graduated college and found a viable job and you're on top of all your monthly bills with a little left over for yourself. It seems like you have all your ducks in a row, but do you? Perhaps you've heard people, usually older people, talking about "Estate Plans" but that's for old folks…that doesn't apply to you, right?
You might want to rethink that.
No one can predict the future, but not leaving concrete answers as to settling our final affairs can make life even more painful for loved ones coping with our loss. A fully formed estate plan allows you to fully define your final wishes, where you want your assets and prized possessions to go. Additionally, there are measures available that let you dictate what to do in the event you are unable to convey your wishes on life support measures.
What happens to your assets if you die? Regardless of how old you are when it happens, if you should die without an estate plan in place, you are said to have died intestate, and your assets will be distributed by way of a legal process called intestacy. In America, intestacy is generally determined according to the laws in your state. If you happen to be unmarried and without children, your assets will usually be given to your parents or next of kin. That may work for some, but in cases where there is a significant other, or a charity you would see parts of your assets bequeathed to, you need to make that clear.
What happens if you are seriously injured and will die without ongoing life support measures, I.e.; a respirator? With a living will, you can control whether you want life support measures to be maintained, and for how long. If you are unable to speak for yourself, determinations on your care will again fall ostensibly to your parents or legal next of kin. This is particularly important if you are estranged from your parents for whatever reason. People who love you, such as significant others may be denied visitation, by order of whomever a court of law grants guardianship to.
Estate planning is such a hugely essential step and one that so many people overlook. While doing so is undeniably uncomfortable, knowing your final wishes have been laid out is undoubtedly the best thing you can do for the people you love. For single parents, this is crucial. Unless you use an estate plan to designate who cares for your children in case of your impairment, that decision will be made by a judge.
So now you understand the importance of establishing beneficiaries to your estate, along with a living will, including medical power of attorney…and are perhaps a little traumatized, but you get it. But how do you get started? Thankfully, it's a lot easier than you think. Legal equals lawyer, and lawyer equals money, right? There is a systematic approach to initiating an estate plan that you can start today, right now in fact. You can literally sit down with word program or even a pad and paper and write out your wishes for termination of life support, and medical power of attorney. Date and sign it in the presence of another adult, and you're done. From there you can dictate where your assets go by laying out a legal will using the same technique. There are even templates you can find online that will save you a few bucks in legal fees. After that, you can lay out directives for child care, living trusts, and even life insurance.
These all seem like very adult concerns, and indeed they are. But as a responsible adult, or even a not so responsible one, you cannot afford to put estate planning off but so long. No one wants to think about grievous injury or death, but it can and will happen. Making arrangements in advance will relieve the anxiety and uncertainty of knowing your final wishes have been made and established.
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