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When Should You Start Thinking About Estate Planning?

When Should You Start Thinking About Estate Planning?

According to a Gallup poll, less than half of American adults have a will “that describes how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death.” Their research also shows that:

  • Adults with a higher income are more likely to report having drafted a will.
  • Adults 65 years of age or older are the highest age subgroup that reports having a will (76% reporting), and the percentage of those who have a will in each subsequent age group decreases by about 20% as the age of the subgroup decreases.

Many young peoples as well as people with small estates believe they do not need an estate plan; however, this is far from true. You are never too young and it is never too early to put together an estate plan.

Estate Planning Considerations by Age

Most financial advisors and estate planning attorneys recommend that people begin estate planning as soon as they are legal adults and update the details as needed. Here is a guideline for what estate planning documents you should consider obtaining based on your age. Please be advised that this is a general guide; you should consult with an attorney to receive personalized recommendations and counsel.

  • Your late teens and 20s. When you turn 18, your parents are no longer entirely responsible for your healthcare and financial decisions. You should obtain a healthcare directive, which includes details about what actions should be taken concerning your health if you are unable to make decisions. You should also name someone who can legally make decisions for you in other regards (i.e. Power of Attorney).
  • Your 30s. Now, you should consider drafting a will and/or trust with the help of our attorneys. A will stipulates who will inherit your assets, settle your estate, and/or care for your children, and a trust allows a designated person (a trustee) to manage certain assets for the trust beneficiaries. These documents can ensure your family is cared for and your wishes are upheld.
  • Your 40s. If you haven’t completed any of the aforementioned estate planning documents, you should consult with an attorney and start planning as soon as possible. You should also talk with your parents and/or children if possible about their wishes and estate plans.
  • Your 50s. During this time, you should work with an attorney to keep your estate plan up to date. You must review your estate plan to ensure it changes as your life changes.
  • Your 60s. You should also begin Medicaid planning with an attorney. Medicaid planning is a part of estate planning that helps you get your finances and documents to ensure you are accepted into the Medicaid program. If you need long-term care in the future, you don’t want to struggle to keep up with payments or lose assets in covering the long-term care costs.

Estate Planning & Life Events

While you should consult with an attorney to begin estate planning as soon as possible, the following life events are also signs that you should start estate planning now.

  • Opening a new savings account. To decide where your money will go after your passing, you should designate a beneficiary.
  • Purchasing a home or property. To help your family/estate avoid probate, you should consider drafting an estate plan if you buy any new property.
  • Getting married or divorced. If you are married, you should consider what will happen if either spouse passes, and in the event of a divorce, you will need to reassess an estate plan you made with your spouse in mind and/or what assets you have left.
  • Planning a trip. It is often recommended that you update or create an estate plan if you are going to be traveling out of the country or for an extended period. Should something happen to you what are your wishes in terms of your medical care or the division of your estate?
  • Having a child. After the birth of any children, you should consider their future financial security as well as who to appoint as their legal guardian.
  • Receiving an inheritance. If you receive money, property, or any other assets, you should consider who you wish to leave those to and if they should be put into a trust.
  • Welcoming a grandchild (or another person) into the family. You may want to include the new member of your family in your will or as a trust beneficiary.

Get Started Today

At Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C., our estate planning team is here to help ensure your affairs are in order. Even if you are young and/or extremely healthy, you never know what tomorrow will bring. You could become seriously ill, be incapacitated, or pass away unexpectedly. For peace of mind, you should have a plan in place that leaves no doubt as to what your wishes are.

Our attorneys offer estate planning services including:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Healthcare directives
  • Tax planning
  • Asset protection plans

To schedule a free consultation with an attorney from our team, reach out to us online or at (203) 583-8299. With over 100 years of collective experience, we are prepared to help you compile a comprehensive estate plan that honors your wishes and ensures that your loved ones know how you would like your affairs to be handled.