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When Should You Start Estate Planning?

By FindLaw Staff | Last updated on

Let's be honest. No one wants to think about death. We all know we will die eventually, but most people simply assume it's something in the distant future they don't need to worry about. And because of this, most people put off estate planning, thinking they will get to it later when it's more urgent.

Estate planning is actually something every adult should do as soon as possible.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the creation of several documents that will not only influence what happens after you die, but these documents will also have a tremendous impact on you during your life. Most people are aware that an estate plan includes a will, which determines how your belongings and assets are distributed after your death. If you do not create a will, your state's intestacy statute will determine who gets them. A will also names a guardian for your minor children and allows you to select an executor who will manage your affairs after your death.

An estate plan includes other documents that you could need at any moment, with no notice. An advance directive, also known as a living will, specifies your wishes about health care when you are incapacitated, such as feeding tubes and life support. A power of attorney authorizes someone else to manage your financial life when you are incapacitated, such as paying your bills and managing your money. These documents allow you to control what happens to you and to your affairs during your life if you are not able to make the decisions yourself.

Why Estate Planning Is Urgent

Every adult should have an estate plan in place. Even if you are young and healthy with few assets, you could become seriously ill tomorrow and not be able to make your own medical decisions. And no matter how few assets you have, deciding who should get them is an important, empowering decision that reduces the burden on your loved ones.

Estate planning is crucial if you are a senior, have a chronic or acute illness, or have significant assets. But it is also urgent if you have children, are married or remarried, have a pet, want control of how your assets are distributed when you die, have specific wishes about health care, want to make it easier for your family when you die, or prefer to make your own decisions as much as possible.

Some people wonder if they should wait to do their estate planning until expected changes happen in their family. Maybe you are planning to marry, have a child on the way, will be retiring, expect to have grandchildren, or are thinking about getting a divorce in the near future. It is important to get an estate plan in place now for your current life. Then you can easily amend it as changes happen in your life and in your family.

Estate Planning Is Easier Than You Think

You may already know how important estate planning is, but you've just been putting it off. You might worry that it is expensive, time-consuming, complicated, and difficult. Estate planning is actually very simple. You don't need to do any research or create complex plans.

Make an appointment with an attorney and they will walk you through the handful of decisions that need to be made. You can usually complete the process with a phone call and an appointment. Or let FindLaw Legal Forms & Services walk you through estate planning, giving you prompts to just fill in the blanks, which you can easily do in just an hour or two. Whether you work with an attorney or do it yourself online, estate planning is easily affordable for most people.

There is no reason to wait any longer. Protect yourself and your family by creating an estate plan now.

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