Most of us likely think of age as the deciding factor for when we should start an estate plan. While age is certainly an important factor in the timing of estate planning, it is just one factor of many. Also of relevance is your overall health, family relationships, financial situation, and beneficiary status. Accordingly, you will not find a set age or time period in a book or online as to when you should start estate planning, but will be wise to think about the process early on and seek the assistance of an experienced California estate planning attorney.
You Need a Power of Attorney Early in Life
When you are a minor child, your parents automatically have the right to make legal decisions and medical decisions on your behalf. Once you turn 18, however, this automatic right ends. As such, everyone 18 and older needs to have both a power of attorney and a health care proxy. With a power of attorney, you will give a selected individual the right to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable. Your health care proxy can make needed medical decisions should you become incapacitated.
Parents Will Want to Start Estate Planning Now
When you become a parent, you take on a whole new level of responsibility. Many new parents find themselves meeting with an estate planning attorney before or soon after the baby’s birth. Your estate plan will likely consist of a will, along with powers of attorney and a health care proxy. In your will, you can name whom you wish to receive your assets. Additionally, and of critical importance to parents, you can nominate a guardian for your minor child should you and your spouse pass away.
High Earners Should Start Early
Those with significant assets will want to take the time to create an estate plan now. High earners could face hefty taxes and family feuds should they die without a proper estate plan in place. Trusts are useful for many people with valuable assets, as assets within the trust can pass to named recipients without the need for probate. Trusts can avoid taxation and have the added benefit of keeping the transfer of assets private.
The bottom line is that almost all of us could likely benefit from beginning to create an estate plan today. Estate planning is a crucial part of your own future as well as our overall legacy, so contact an estate planning attorney to get started.