Under 40? Top 5 Tips for Getting a Jump on Estate Planning.
I know what you’re probably thinking – “I’m not even 40. Why do I need to even think about planning my estate? Isn’t that something I do when I get my AARP card?”
Answer: It’s never too early to start planning your estate, especially if you have a family or close loved ones. None of us have a crystal ball showing the future. You may think you have decades ahead of you, but the truth is you only have the present. It is important to remember estate planning should involve disability planning too, not just planning for death. The sooner you start planning, the more prepared you are for life’s unexpected twists and turns.
1. Start right now, regardless of your net worth.
You may not have much. You may even be paying off student loans and/or credit cards for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, your net worth is not the deciding factor for getting your estate organized. Ask yourself, how prepared would your loved ones and family be if something happened to you tomorrow? Would they know what accounts you had? Where they could get your financial information? What your wishes are? Ultimately, the objective is to have a plan in place so your loved ones are not stressed out and your wishes are carried out in the event of an unforeseen disability or death.
2. Get the basic education.
What is a will? What is a trust? What is the difference? What should you be looking for when you meet with an estate planning attorney, and what questions should you be asking? Once you have these fundamental components in order, you can explore other, more complex estate planning strategies to ensure your plan will meet your goals and work when it needs to. At InSight Law, we have all of our new and prospective clients attend a free small group education event (The Truth About Estate Planning) to ensure they understand the basics of Estate Planning.
3. Have “the talk” with your loved ones about what you want to have happen if you suddenly pass away.
I know it’s tough – no one wants to think about death. However, you need to have that talk with your spouse, your family, and even close friends. Additionally, make sure your wishes are memorialized through writings or recordings to your loved ones. These can be very helpful when your loved ones are faced with tough decisions. Expressing your wishes will help ensure they actually come to fruition when they need to.
4. Meet with an experienced estate planning attorney.
A well-organized estate must satisfy various formalities, meet certain statutory requirements that may apply to where you live, accounts must be kept in order, etc., etc. You need someone who specializes in this area of law to make sure your estate is fully compliant will all relevant laws. You don’t want to spend the time planning your estate only for a loved one to later discover that you had an insufficient number of witnesses to attest to your will. Additionally, find an attorney who specializes in the area of estate planning and can counsel you and your family through the various issues. Beware of pre-populated words documents in which attorneys just ask you to fill in the blanks.
5. Set a time each year to review and update your estate plan.
Some people make the mistake of drafting a will or a trust, then leaving it in a drawer for 25 years. This greatly increases the risk that your estate will not be distributed in a manner that you prefer. What if you get divorced? What if your child gets married? What if your child, or children, pass on before you? These are major life events that many of us have to deal with. Your estate plan should be ready for these scenarios. To do this, you need to schedule a time, each year, to look over your plan and make any necessary changes and/or updates. At InSight Law, we make sure to schedule bi-annual reviews with our clients so they can make changes, and we can inform them of any important changes to estate planning laws (example: changes to the estate tax).
For more information, check out this page on estate planning.