Estate planning is the drafting of documents to protect your assets, wishes, or family upon death or incapacity. If you are breathing, you need an estate plan. Estate planning includes not only providing instructions for distributing your assets at death, but also appointing agents to act on your behalf at incapacity and death. Even if you do not have many assets or a large estate, it is still important to pick who will make decisions for you in the case of incapacity or death, rather than the courts.
Is Estate Planning Just About What Happens After Death Or Should It Also Encompass What Should Happen If Someone Becomes Incapacitated During His Or Her Lifetime?
Estate planning is just as much, if not more critical, for incapacity as it is for death. We are more likely to be incapacitated during our lifetime than die because we only die once. Therefore, incapacity planning is equally, if not more important, than our death planning. Incapacity planning involves picking agents or individuals to do jobs for us when we cannot make decisions or act on our behalf medically or financially.
At What Point In Life Should Someone Start Creating Estate Planning Documents?
You should start thinking about estate planning early in adulthood, and this planning should continue throughout your life. For example, incapacity documents such as power of attorney documents are important for children who just turned 18 and are going off to college. Those incapacity documents include our financial power of attorney or medical power of attorney. These continue to be important in early adulthood and throughout life.
Another very good time to start estate planning is with marriage and children. Often couples will start the process at this time since the change in life circumstances also often comes with thoughts of the future. I enjoy working with young families who are just starting in this process that are setting up a plan to help protect their family and give them peace of mind.
While beginning estate planning early in adulthood is ideal, you can start estate planning at any time in your life, and this process will continue throughout life.
Should Someone Create Their Own Estate Planning Documents Or Have An Attorney Do It?
Many people think that they can use online forms or templates to create their estate planning documents. This is a recipe for disaster. You want your estate planning to work when you need it the most, which is when you become incapacitated or die. Without knowing the law or what you are creating through these platforms or these templates, you can easily create many problems for your family at death or incapacity. One of the significant benefits of having an attorney create these documents for you is the attorney will also educate you on how your assets pass, advise on to select agents, and answer very important questions to guide the entirety of the estate planning process.
I enjoy educating individuals on how their assets pass at death and helping them understand how their entire estate plan works within other financial frameworks.
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