Most people think there are certain “qualifications” when it comes to who needs an estate plan, but the truth is that there are estate planning documents needed in each stage of your life. Whether you are 18 or 81, have millions in your retirement accounts or feel crushed by student debt, there are steps that you should take now to prepare for the inevitable or unexpected accident or illness. 

Obviously, the earlier you create an estate plan, the easier it would be for you to create and maintain it as your life changes.  But, it’s never too late to do the right thing. By taking steps now to prepare for the inevitable and unexpected, you may be saving a lot of grief and money for your loved ones. 

Here are the estate planning documents needed in each stage of your life:

If you are just starting out…

As soon as one turns 18 years old and legally becomes an adult, it’s important to set up emergency contacts. If you were to get into an accident, even if you aren’t financially independent yet, healthcare providers would need your consent to give information to your parents. If you become incapacitated, that means your parents may not be able to get information about your condition and wouldn’t be able to make decisions on your behalf. How do you make sure this doesn’t happen? Have a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and a HIPAA Authorization naming your parents, or whomever you wish to receive information or advocate for you.

If you are starting a family or acquiring more assets…

If you have followed the advice above and have your Power of Attorney and medical wishes stated, the next steps would be to protect your assets as they grow. Having a Power of Attorney for Finances is important along with having a Will that lists your wishes for your assets should something happen to you. If you have started a family, be it with children or pets, a Will is also important to document your wishes for their care once you are gone. 

If your wealth is becoming more significant…

As you age and your family and finances grow, you may need more protection in case something were to happen to you. You most likely have life insurance and growing assets that would be more secure in a trust-based estate plan. This may be a good time to reflect as well on adding elderly parents to your estate plan or changing conditions for your adult children. As you’re nearing retirement there are also many tax considerations to look at when it comes to allocating your assets. With a trust-based estate plan there are tax advantages that would keep more of your money in your family. 

No matter what stage of life you are in, let us help you create the perfect estate plan for your situation. Contact us and let us help you figure out the best path for you and your family. 


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Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.