Why Everyone, Even Young People, Need an Estate Plan
Many young people are hesitant to consult an attorney about creating an estate plan. They may believe that death is far away or that they don’t have enough assets to make estate planning important. However, estate planning is important for all adults regardless of age or assets.
An Estate Plan Can Help You if You Injured or Ill
A properly drafted estate plan can help provide for you and your family if you become temporarily or permanently disabled due to injury or illness. For example, it is important that your estate plan include:
- Health Care Proxy: a health care proxy allows you to appoint a person whom you trust to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Your health care proxy is legally obligated to make the health care decisions that that person believes you would make for yourself in the given situation.
- Power of Attorney: like a health care proxy, the person whom you appoint as your power of attorney has the responsibility to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. Your power of attorney will make your business and financial decisions for the period of time that you are unable to do so yourself. The power of attorney may be the same person as your health care proxy or a different person.
- Disability Insurance Coverage: It is important to consider what will happen to you and your family if an illness or injury prevents you from working. How will your income be replaced? Who will care for the children and clean the house? All of these things should be considered and an appropriate level of disability insurance coverage should be obtained so that you will have the money that you need should you become unable to work.
An Estate Plan Can Protect You if the Unthinkable Happens
Unfortunately, tragedy sometimes strikes and people die at a young age. While you put all of your energy into preventing that kind of tragedy it is important to plan for its unlikely occurrence. Careful planning will allow you to:
- Appoint a Guardian: You can choose anyone whom you want to raise your minor children in the event of your death. However, your choice must be clearly stated and legally executed. Otherwise, the state will decide who gets your kids and it may be a relative of whom you do not approve.
- Distribute Your Own Assets: If you don’t decide who will get your assets including your savings, your home, your jewelry and your car, for example, then the state will decide for you.
If you fail to develop and execute an estate plan that covers all of the elements described above, then the state will decide who gets to make your health care decisions, who will take care of your children and how your assets will be distributed. You likely have more at stake then you think that you do so don’t take any unnecessary chances. Instead, plan for the unthinkable and hope that it doesn’t happen for many years to come.
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