An estate plan can help you map out your future and determine the fate of your assets. Equally as important, your plan can provide your surviving family members with guidance and comfort after your death.
If you have not yet accumulated much wealth, do not have children and have relatively few assets, you may wonder if planning your estate is worth the time. Knowing when to begin planning can help you establish and refine the perfect plan.
Adjusting to adulthood
You can begin estate planning as soon as you reach adulthood. When you no longer fall under the responsibility of your parents, you may want to think about who you would want to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf in an emergency situation. Similarly, as you acquire wealth throughout your life you may want to have a plan in place for the distribution of these assets should you ever suffer incapacitation.
There is no such thing as too early a time to begin planning. Starting young enables you to refine your plan over time. Adding to your plan as your life progresses is a much more efficient way than having no plan at all and scrambling to organize things when an unexpected circumstance threatens your well-being.
Maintaining your plan
Your estate plan will probably not have everything you want it to have right at the start. With time, you may add or remove parts to keep them aligned with your needs and desires. According to U.S. News, some factors to consider addressing in your plan include the following:
- Guardianship for dependents
- Beneficiary designations
- Health care proxy instructions
- A durable power of attorney
- A written will
- A special-needs trust
Forgetting to update your plan throughout the years could compromise its value. When you experience major life events including marriage, births of children, a substantial change to your income or divorce, make sure your plan reflects these changes. A proactive approach to planning your estate can give you peace of mind that will last a lifetime.