Establishing yourself as a young and successful professional is a great time to consider your estate planning needs. While many young people feel like estate planning is a “far off” concern, laying your wishes out early helps you maintain peace of mind. Taking a few simple steps can put you on track to always have a plan outlined that can be easily adjusted for your life situation.
Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best
No one ever expects an accident or incapacitation incident to happen, but unfortunately they are all too common. A 20-year-old entering the workforce today may have 40+ years standing between them and retirement. In that time, one in four will become disabled*. A sudden medical issue, workplace accident, or collision on the road can change your life forever in just a few minutes. Although you will hopefully never need to use documents that give power of attorney or healthcare decision-making authority to another person, don’t expose your family members to the risk of having to figure out these difficult decisions on their own.
Factor in All Needs
Estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind when you are first starting a family. But, if you have taken on a mortgage or hope to see your children attend college, think about how your assets can be distributed so that your spouse and children are able to continue their lives without becoming buried in debt. If you’ve got pets, make sure you’ve thought about arrangements for them if you become unable to care for them or if you were to suddenly pass away.
As a young professional, you may also be concerned about care for your parents if something were to happen to you. Many adult children expect to play some role in caring for aging parents, but a sudden accident can destroy these plans rather quickly. Make sure you have thought about their estate planning and long-term care planning, too, in the event that something happens to you. This is also a good time to lock in rates on your own long-term care policy and disability policy while you are young and healthy.
Conduct a Document Review
Even if you are young and without children, you need to have a few basic documents in line – and they all should be organized and easily found. A will, healthcare power of attorney, and copies of critical documents like IRA accounts and any life insurance policies should all be stored in a fireproof box. Make sure you tell your loved ones where they can find these documents in case of emergency. Review your documents a minimum of once per year to determine whether you need to update any clauses or beneficiaries.
If you are young enough to still be paying off private student loans, factor in how this will influence the beneficiaries of your life insurance policies or other accounts. If a parent or other individual has co-signed, stipulating that some of the funds from your accounts goes towards them can help prevent an unfortunate financial burden.
As you can see, there are many objectives that can be accomplished by young professionals approaching the estate planning process. Contact Bob Odle, an experienced estate planning attorney, today to protect your family’s future.
*According to the Council for Disability Awareness