Although we all know how important it is to have an estate plan, we don’t always realize how different stages or events in our life can affect estate planning. Whether you are looking to have kids, you are going through the midlife challenges of caring for your children and your own aging parents, or if you are entering retirement, there are different factors to consider and updates that need to be made to your existing estate plan.
If you haven’t already made an estate plan, creating a will is a great place to start. Though you can do it yourself, it is best to have a Will created by an estate planning professional to make sure that you don’t leave out anything important. A professional will guide you through the estate planning process, making sure you have essential documents in place, such as powers of attorney and health care directive. A professional will also be able to give you additional options that might fit your particular situation and needs better than a simple Will.
Now, once you have taken the first step by creating an estate plan, it is important to remember that changes in your life, such as adding a family member can affect your estate plans. Having children puts an even greater emphasis on your estate planning needs. Most young people don’t think they need to worry about making a Will or assigning things like their medical power of attorney. However, having your first child should be a trigger for everyone to start thinking about and developing an estate plan. You want your children to be taken care of, even if the unexpected happens. So, it is important to put your wishes in writing. Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated? Who do you want caring for your children? What do you want to happen to your assets and who will handle carrying out your wishes after your death? Create an estate plan and make these critical decisions earlier rather than later so that you can rest assured that your children and your other loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone.
There are also midlife challenges you may face in regards to estate planning. At this point in your life, you should at least have thought about your own wishes and created an estate plan in the event of your unexpected death. For many people, this comes about naturally as they are also having to start caring for their own aging parents. You may have already had to deal with making sure your parents have the proper documents in place, such as power of attorney for both their health care and their finances, so that you can properly care for them and step in medically or financially if needed. You and your parents may have already had to discuss their end of life wishes and they should make sure to include these wishes in their estate plans so that everyone understands what needs to be done once they are gone. These conversations with parents and interactions with their estate plans should prompt you to consider your own end of life plans and make sure your affairs are in order as well.
Once you make it to retirement age, it is critical to make sure that you have all of your estate planning documents in place. Health issues tend to start cropping up as we get older and, thus, retirement is a good time to review your estate plans and make sure everything is up to date. Are your beneficiaries still the best options? Are there grandchildren that need to be incorporated into your plans? Do you have any new assets to add to your estate plan? All of these are important questions to consider when you reach retirement.
Continually adapting and updating your estate plan at different stages through your life can help set you up for success, allowing you to feel confident that your wishes will be respected and put into action in the event of your death. Estate planning can be a complicated process but if you rely on professionals, such as those at Horn & Johnsen, you can rest easy knowing that you are taking the right steps. Have questions or would like to start your own estate planning? Head to the Horn & Johnsen website and contact us today: https://hornjohnsen.com/contact-us/