In some ways, estate planning is a universal necessity. Any adult could theoretically benefit from taking the time to safeguard their interests in the event of their death or a medical emergency that leaves them incapacitated. Yet, despite the near-universal importance of estate planning, a shocking percentage of adults in the United States have no formal paperwork in place to protect them and their loved ones under these circumstances.
It is very easy for otherwise responsible adults to continually procrastinate about putting together an estate plan. However, people who belong to one or more of the three groups below are among those who would benefit the most from the careful creation of an estate plan.
Turning 18 gives people a sense of freedom and anticipation about the future, but it also leaves someone vulnerable in ways they may not anticipate. Many young adults who have just turned 18 still live at home with their parents. They may not realize that the parents they still depend on financially no longer have any authority should they experience some kind of medical emergency. Young adults who do not yet have families of their own or major assets often need estate plans so that they can name someone to make medical choices on their behalf and provide instructions about their care preferences.
New parents and/or new spouses
Getting married or having a child means that there is now someone who depends in a legal and financial sense on an individual. Both marriage and the birth of a child can therefore be motivation for someone to put together an estate plan. Having paperwork in place to name a guardian for a child and to provide financial resources for a spouse or dependent children can give a new spouse or parent peace of mind while simultaneously providing protection for those dependent loved ones.
Those preparing for retirement
As someone begins planning to leave the workforce to live on a fixed income, there are many legal challenges that they may want to proactively address. Asset protection planning could help someone avoid collection activity that could endanger their retirement savings or home ownership due to creditor claims or a lawsuit. Medicaid or long-term care planning can help someone ensure they can cover the cost of nursing home support later in life. Advance directives and powers of attorney can also help people guide and empower others to support them if their health declines as they age.
Recognizing when estate planning is most beneficial and crucial for someone’s protection may inspire some individuals to finally put together the paperwork they need for protection and peace of mind.