At the present time the average life expectancy in the United States is between 78 and 79 years. Medical science is capable of incredible things these days, and people are learning more about how to live healthy lifestyles. As a result, it would seem logical to expect these lifespans to increase as time goes on. In fact, the segment of the population that is 85 years of age and older is the fastest growing demographic among us.
So does this increased longevity mean that you really don’t have to worry about planning your estate until you are about 70 years old? Unfortunately a lot of Americans seem to think so, but the answer is a resounding no.
According to a Harris interactive poll conducted late in 2009, 24% of Americans under the age of 35 are going through life without having executed any estate planning documents at all. This is a troubling statistic because estate planning is important for people of all ages.
You have to recognize the fact that there are components to the typical modern estate plan aside from the monetary ones. A living will and a durable medical power of attorney, documents called advanced health care directives, are highly recommended.
It is important to select a representative to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated after an accident or due to the rapid and unexpected onset of a catastrophic illness. This is done via the execution of durable powers of attorney (for property and health care) and should also be covered in your living trust if you have one.
With a living will you express your preferences with regard to medical procedures such as being kept alive via the use of feeding tubes or other artificial life support measures.
Even if you have not yet accumulated a vast store of financial assets you should have at least a basic last will and testament in place. Selecting a guardian for your minor children should the unthinkable take place is crucial and your guardians should be listed in in your last will. Young adults should also have adequate life insurance coverage, especially if you have people depending on your income. Estate planning is not just for senior citizens. It is a basic responsibility of adulthood and should be seen as such.
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