Estate planning involves the creation of documents to provide for your dependents and set aside your property for different people when you die. People can also create documents that have authority while they are still alive but incapacitated, such as powers of attorney and advance medical directives.
Many adults think that they don’t yet need estate plans, possibly because they don’t have much personal property or haven’t had children yet. However, many legal and financial advisers will warn people that every adult needs an estate plan.
Is that really true, or is it a sweeping generalization?
Even brand-new adults may need an estate plan
When a child turns 18, they likely don’t have much personal property or any noteworthy debts to their name. The chances that they have dependent family members are also low at that age. However, they would still benefit from an estate plan.
Once they become an adult on their 18 birthday, their parents no longer have the right to access their medical information or make choices for them if they need medical care. Young adults often need medical powers of attorney and privacy waivers in place so that there is someone to speak for them if an emergency occurs.
As people grow older, their estate planning needs will change. Those with spouses and children need documents to protect their loved ones. Those who divorce or remarry may need documents so that their children inherit some property instead of their spouse receiving everything. Older adults may need to consider what kind of care they want to receive in their golden years or take steps to protect their property from creditors.
What estate documents do you actually need?
While it is true that essentially everyone would benefit from an estate plan, every testator has different planning needs. Determining the right documents to create in your current circumstances may require some help. You will also need to review those plans occasionally and update them so that they continue to hold authority as your circumstances change.
Early estate planning and continued updates offer the best level of protection in an unpredictable world. Recognizing that you need to create or modify your estate plan can protect you and the people who matter the most to you.