Estate planning is important for adults of all ages.
It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have proper estate plans to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. Many do not plan because of the false assumption that estate planning is only for the wealthy or for those who are older. However, estate planning is important for adults of all ages and all levels of wealth. Proper planning can save families many wasted dollars and hours of hardship.
For young families, planning is particularly important. The needed planning is not just about what happens if one passes away. Unexpected injury or illness can hit anyone at anytime. Proper planning can ensure that there is someone legally authorized to act in such a case and prevent the need for a court to get involved and name a guardian and/or conservator.
There are a number of other questions young families should consider in planning.
In the event of divorce and remarriage, how will property pass from the former spouse to the children living in a household with a stepparent?
In the event of the death of the primary breadwinner, is there sufficient life insurance coverage for purposes of income replacement to support the surviving spouse and children who were dependent upon the primary breadwinner for their daily maintenance and support.
In the event of the death of both parents, who will care for the children? Who will handle the affairs of the estate and ensure that property will be used and transferred according to the wishes of the deceased parents? If there is no estate plan or will, the courts will appoint a guardian for the children, and the guardian may be an individual who does not share the values and religious beliefs of the deceased parents. State law will determine when children will receive assets, and distributions will be made to the children with no safeguards provided.
Advanced age and substantial wealth are not the primary indicators of the need for an estate plan. Young families should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney who can guide them in providing for the current and future needs of their young children.
You can’t just talk about estate planning. Verbal agreements are not enough. You and your attorney need to put your wishes in writing. Proper formalities must be followed or your documents may not be accepted.
It is impossible to accurately predict what will happen in life and when proper planning is needed. Take action now and get the planning in place to adequately protect you and your loved ones.