Becoming an adult is a gradual process, often extending over decades. But during your twenties you will likely reach some of the most crucial benchmarks of adulthood. These may include finishing your formal education, living independently for the first time, setting out on a long-term career path, finding a serious romantic partner, marrying, and even having a child. All of these decisions have far-reaching consequences.
Starting the estate planning process early will help you visualize and prepare for your future, and help you discover and protect what you most value. A well-drafted estate plan will also help ensure that your loved ones are taken care of when you’re gone.
Many people mistakenly believe that only middle-aged or elderly people need an estate plan. But savvy young adults recognize that contacting a well-respected estate planning attorney at a young age is a measure of maturity. Doing so indicates that you are ready to take responsibility for protecting (as well as accumulating) assets, and for making provisions for your future and the futures of those you love.
In fact, one sign that you are actually a grownup is connecting with professionals in all areas of your life that require expertise (e.g. healthcare, insurance, finances, plumbing). Being an adult means being aware not only of your own strengths, but of the areas in which you need professional assistance.
Flexibility Is Key
Much of the future will not be what you expect. When you’re in your twenties, this may be difficult to grasp. It is a quantum leap to move from adolescence, when most people feel invincible, into adulthood, when you realize that mortality is inevitable.
As you plot the map to your future, you’ll need to acknowledge that your life may change directions. Your connection with your estate planning attorney will be ongoing, since you may have to make changes based on predictable or unexpected events.
This is why it is so important to choose your attorney carefully. You’ll need someone who will help you and your loved ones through blessings and misfortunes, whether to help you protect the accumulating assets of a thriving business or to preserve government benefits for a child’s special needs.
What Estate Planning Can Establish When You’re Young
Among the many benefits of planning your estate when you’re young are:
- Protecting your assets as they accumulate
- Providing for those who depend on you now or who will rely on you later
- Protecting a loved one who is disabled
- Planning ahead for a family member who is unable to handle money responsibly
Your own incapacity and death may seem hard to imagine. But a sharp, compassionate estate planning attorney will help you plan thoughtfully for the risk that you may die young. Your attorney will do this by:
- Having you designate beneficiaries for your assets, possibly including charities that have personal meaning for you
- Discussing with you the steps you want taken to preserve your life if you are near death and unable to communicate your wishes
- Having you name the person to take over your financial duties if your are incapacitated
- Having you name the person you trust to be a guardian for your children and even your pets
Keep in mind that even the most perfectly crafted plan may change as your life unfolds. It is important to choose an estate planning lawyer that you trust and feel comfortable with to help guide you through some of life’s greatest challenges. For example, you may encounter changes in your employment or income level, your marital or parental status, your place of residence, or your own business. You may also face unexpected medical expenses, illness, injury, or the death of a loved one. An experienced estate planning attorney may be a valuable resource for you in any of these circumstances.
Why You Need a Well-Credentialed, Well-Respected Estate Planning Attorney
Whatever your age, choosing an estate planning attorney is a serious decision. Choosing wisely will make the task of planning your future much less confusing and much more efficient. This person will help you:
- Draft, review and file or record the necessary documents
- Create trusts to protect your assets from creditors and unnecessary taxation
- Clarify your options, paying close attention to your particular needs
- Be ready to modify and amend your documents as your life circumstances change
- Ensure that your loved ones avoid the delay and cost of probate
- Make certain that all of your paperwork is clear and legally binding to help avoid contentious family interactions when you pass away
A Smart Estate Planning Attorney Will Make Sure You Have All Necessary Documents
Once you’re an adult, the buck stops with you. As the recent pandemic has so graphically illustrated, none of us knows what will happen tomorrow, So being an adult means preparing for both wonderful and frightening events. Your estate planning attorney will ensure that you have all the documents you need to see you through, which may include some or all of the following, depending on your circumstances:
- Last Will and Testament (will)
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Medical Directive
- Revocable Living Trust
Whatever life brings you, you will almost certainly be revisiting your estate plan in your thirties and forties, and hopefully right through your eighties and nineties. A properly constructed estate plan, if reviewed and maintained over the years, will serve you well throughout your life.