There are certain things in life that are all too easy to delay until it is too late. Estate planning is one such activity. Many people think that estate plans are only necessary for those who are very sick, very old or very wealthy.
In reality, almost everyone will derive some form of protection and benefit from the creation of a comprehensive estate plan. The longer you delay its creation, the more likely it is that you will find yourself in a situation where you need its protection but don’t have it available to you.
There are a few obvious warning signs that you need to start estate planning sooner rather than later.
You’re about to become a parent
Whether you adopt, foster or have a biological child, parenting means assuming financial and legal responsibility for someone incapable of providing for themselves. Your children will be utterly dependent on you for many years.
If anything happens to you, they will have very few resources unless you plan ahead. Estate planning gives you a place to name a guardian and ensure that there are assets set aside for your kids if you die.
You work a dangerous job or have a complicated family medical history
If you work in fishing, farming, transportation, construction or even medicine, you have higher-than-average risks for injury on the job. You can suffer a fall that puts you in a coma or an injury due to contact with electricity that leaves you temporarily impaired.
An estate plan doesn’t just determine who gets what. It also includes a living will that will have an advanced medical directive that discusses your wishes and power of attorney documents to give other people the authority to make medical decisions or conduct financial transactions on your behalf. Such protections are important for those in dangerous jobs or with a family history of severe medical conditions.
You have substantial assets or a business in your name
The more property you own, the more problematic it is to die without a last will. A combination of a will and a trust may be beneficial if your property is valuable enough to trigger estate taxes. Additionally, proper documentation about your wishes will ensure that the transfer of your property goes smoothly, which is especially important if there is a business involved.
The reasons that people consider creating an estate plan could include receiving a diagnosis with a debilitating condition, preparing for retirement, getting married or losing a loved one. The sooner you start the process and the better the help you receive, the more protection you and your loved ones will have if anything happens to you.