When Should You Start to Think About Estate Planning?
If you have done any research into the question of when to begin your estate planning, you likely found that most folks recommend starting to plan your estate as soon as you enter the workforce. In other words, you should have started the process of estate planning in your early 20s. While this makes sense for some people — those inheriting a small fortune in generational wealth who have a network of trusts and investments — most of us start thinking about estate planning when we reckon the end is nigh. This can make the process particularly unpleasant to deal with. The truth is, the earlier you start thinking about estate planning, the better off you will be and the longer you will enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones will be cared for after your passing.
Step One: Name a Decision-Maker
Most people do not plan for the worst. They simply expect the best. Planning for the worst can prevent a terrible situation from becoming even worse. As an example, some people encounter situations in which they can no longer make decisions on their own due to incapacitated or worse. Naming a decision-maker now can streamline the grieving process for family and give them direction moving forward.
Even if you are alive, having someone who can be a health care proxy or have durable power of attorney over your finances should you become incapacitated saves your loved ones needless stress in a difficult situation.
Think About Your Assets
A lot of your assets can avoid probate entirely without requiring a fancy trust. Bank accounts, retirement funds, and more can have named beneficiaries that transfer directly upon your death. Is this important to think about? Yes, we think it is. You should avoid probate if you can and you can with minimal effort and forethought.
Drafting a Last Will and Testament
Do you think you do not need a last will and testament? You might be right, but consider what happens to your property if you do not have a will in place. All of your assets, property, and real estate will go through probate and be distributed in accordance with something known as intestate succession. This is essentially an algorithm that the government runs to determine who has the primary claim to your estate. Spouses, of course, are first on the list, with living children coming second. Parents and siblings come next with more distant relatives further down the list. If the state cannot find anyone to give your belongings to, it goes into something called escheat, which means the government takes control of your assets and liquidates them into the public coffers.
Start Your Estate Planning Now
The Nawrocki Center for Elder Law helps seniors with all of their estate planning needs. This includes drafting or redrafting wills, setting up trusts, and establishing durable power of attorney for cases in which you are still alive but unable to act on your own behalf. Call us today for more information on how we can help.