Researchers periodically conduct studies that ask people about their estate planning preparedness. Time after time, the results are not encouraging. The majority of American adults do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
Many older people are remiss, but as you may imagine, younger adults are more likely to put estate planning on the back burner. This is certainly understandable on one level. You may feel somewhat invincible when you are in your 20’s, 30’s, or 40’s.
At the same time, you don’t expect to total your car when you are a young adult, but you do carry automobile insurance. The same could be said for health insurance. You don’t expect to get sick, but you want to protect yourself just in case.
You could look at estate planning in a similar light.
Estate Planning for Young Families
If you are the parent of minor children, estate planning is a must, regardless of your age. In fact, it could be argued that estate planning is more important for younger parents than it is for senior citizens.
The children of senior citizens are typically going to be grown and self-supporting; in fact, they may have their own children, and they may even have grandchildren.
On the other hand, younger adults with dependent children have an added layer of responsibility. What would happen to your spouse and children if you were to pass away? Would the money be there to provide a reasonable standard of living?
You take steps to protect your family when you plan your estate.
There is also the matter of guardianship. When you plan your estate, you can nominate a guardian who would care for your children if both parents were to pass away together in an accident or through some other type of catastrophe.
Advance Directives for Health Care
A comprehensive estate plan will also address end-of-life issues. This will typically involve the execution of legally binding documents called advance directives for health care. These directives are important for adults of all ages.
One of these directives is the living will. With a living will you state your preferences with regard to the utilization of life-sustaining measures like mechanical respiration and artificial nutrition and hydration.
Would you want to be kept alive indefinitely through the use of these measures, or would you rather let nature take its course if you were to become incapacitated while in a terminal condition? You answer this question when you create a living will.
You could also execute a durable power of attorney for health care or health care proxy. With this document you name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to communicate them yourself at some point in time.
Free Estate Planning Consultation
If you don’t know where to begin, we can help. Our firm offers free consultations to people here in the greater San Jose area. To request a consultation, send us a message through our contact page. We also invite you to attend one of our Free Living Trust Seminars.