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Estate Planning - Too Soon To Plan Ahead?

It's human nature to procrastinate. From a young age, we put-off doing those things we find unpleasant or deem unnecessary - from doing homework in middle school to paying taxes and taking out the trash as an adult. As the saying goes, "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow"?

But that old adage should be thrown out with the bath water when it comes to planning ahead for your future. No matter how young (or old) you are, making sure your family is taken care of in the event you suddenly become incapacitated or die is something that's just as important as living and breathing itself.

In other words, estate planning should not be put off until it's too late. No matter your age or your wealth, planning ahead is the best gift you can give to your loved ones.

What goes into a good estate plan

Some of the components of a successful estate plan for young families include:

  • Drafting a will - the most essential (and often times, most basic) element of an estate plan provides instructions to your family (and the state) on how to distribute your assets upon your death
  • Allocating assets - discussions should be had regarding who receives which assets, when the assets should be received (e.g., upon a minor child turning 18), and how the assets are to be received (e.g., trusts, cash disbursement, etc.)
  • Appointing an executor/trustee - the executor/trustee of your estate will be responsible for settling your financial and business affairs, and thus this person should be someone you trust implicitly
  • Choosing a guardian - perhaps your most important decision is choosing the person who will take care of your children should you and the children's other parent become incapacitated or pass away
  • Creating a living will/advanced health care directive (AHD) - a legal document that specifies what medical treatment you should (and should not) be provided if you are no longer able to make a decision for yourself due to incapacity or illness
  • Setting up a trust - trusts can shield your assets from taxes and provide for your kids from adolescence through adulthood
  • Designating beneficiaries - along with providing instructions for distributing your assets in a will and trust, you should also ensure your life insurance policies and retirement plans designate the proper recipients of those benefits
  • Signing a power of attorney - a simple but often overlooked component of an estate plan is the power of attorney document, which allows you to appoint someone to legally act on your behalf

No one plans for a debilitating accident. No one chooses the date of their death. And no one wants the state to determine who gets their children, their assets or their legacy after they're gone. No matter your age, be smart and plan ahead by calling an estate planning lawyer today.

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