Many people don’t start thinking about estate planning until later in life. However, it’s never too early for an adult to start thinking about their plans. Just like planning for retirement, it’s best to start making your plans early if you want your loved ones to avoid unnecessary struggles when you die, especially if you pass away unexpectedly.
No matter what age you are, there are some things you can do to start preparing your final wishes and legacy. Here are some expert estate planning tips for every age, from your 20s through your 60s and beyond.
Estate planning in your 20s
You may not have many assets in your 20s, but your estate plans should, at the very minimum, include a Will, a durable power of attorney, and a healthcare power of attorney (POA).
Each POA serves a specific process in one’s estate planning endeavors. The healthcare POA helps you choose someone to make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so. The durable POA handles all financial and business affairs if you are unable to handle them yourself.
As for your Will, if you don’t have major assets, a spouse, or children, a simple Will may be enough to cover what you currently have. However, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced attorney to find out whether this would be sufficient.
Estate planning in your 30s
Many people in their 30s are married and may own a home, have a family, and a few financial assets. To accommodate the additions of a spouse and perhaps children, it’s good to review your Will and consider creating a trust.
Unlike assets left to beneficiaries in a Will, a trust can protect certain assets from going through the probate process and also designate someone to manage assets for minor children until they are old enough to inherit them. If you do have minor children, you will also want to designate a standby legal guardian for them in your estate plans in case you and their other parent die before they reach adulthood.
Estate planning in your 40s
Many people begin accumulating more wealth and assets throughout their 40s. At this stage, it is a good time to start talking to family members about your plans. These conversations will be some of the most difficult discussions of the entire estate planning process. However, it’s better to start them early than leave your family in the dark about your estate plans. Make sure to inform your loved ones of asset distribution and your wishes for medical decisions and long-term care if you develop a health condition.
Estate planning in your 50s
By the time you reach your 50s, you may want to look at estate plans made earlier in your life and update it to account for any life changes you may have experienced. Perhaps you sold a home, got divorced, or now have grandchildren with whom you’d like to share your estate. Ensure that all documents, including your payable on death accounts (like a retirement savings plan) and powers of attorney, are up-to-date, and that you have clear plans outlined for how your loved ones should handle your affairs in case of incapacitation.
Estate planning at 60+
By the time you reach 60, your estate planning documents and final wishes should all be in order. Beyond this point, you should periodically review your documents for any possible discrepancies and update it frequently, especially if your health takes a turn or your family or financial circumstances change. That way, your loved ones will know what to do when you pass away, and you can feel secure in the knowledge that your family will take care of your assets and distribute them according to your Will.
Get help with your estate plans at any age
Whether you’re creating your first Will or updating an existing estate plan, the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor can help. We’ve been serving Virginia residents for 20 years and can advise you on the best estate planning tools for your current assets and needs. Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation today.