How to Know When It’s Time for an Estate Plan

As long as you are 18 years old, you can and should have an estate plan. If you do not already have these essential documents, when you experience certain life events, you should get these papers. A California estate planning attorney can answer your questions about how to know when it’s time for an estate plan and draft the documents for you.

When You Get Married

Getting married comes with many legal implications. It is always a smart idea to create an estate plan when you get married, even if you have a prenuptial agreement. Getting a will or living trust that talks about the prenuptial agreement can prevent your spouse from trying to ignore the prenuptial agreement and get more money from your estate than you two agreed if you die first.

When You Become a Parent

When you have a child by birth or adoption, you should write an estate plan to protect the child’s right to receive what you wish, whether you pass away when the child is young or is an adult at that time. With every child that you have, you should revise the estate plan. You might think that siblings would automatically share with each other, but often, that does not happen. Be detailed about what each child will receive in assets and personal items.

When You Get a Divorce

Getting a divorce can invalidate your existing estate documents. If you do not have an estate plan, you might think that you do not have to take any action after the divorce, but you should create a new will that makes it clear that your former spouse will not receive anything from your estate. 

Also, you should change the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts when you divorce. In addition, you should name other people to act on your behalf on your power of attorney and health care proxy. Most people would not want their ex to serve in those capacities.

When You Receive a Windfall

Let’s say that you win the lottery or inherit a substantial amount of money. Even if you are young, single, and healthy with no children, you should create an estate plan. Otherwise, your relatives will likely fight each other bitterly over who will get the money if you meet an untimely death.

When You Get a Significant Injury or Illness

If you become unable to make or communicate decisions, you will have the assurance of knowing that you got to choose the person who will manage your financial matters and make your health care decisions for you. The only way to accomplish that goal is to have the estate planning documents ahead of time. 

Why Young, Single People with Modest Assets Need an Estate Plan

You might think that you have many decades ahead of you and that life will be relatively carefree, at least for a while. It only takes seconds for a drunk driver or some other sudden catastrophe to turn your life upside down. When a young, healthy person experiences something like that, someone will have to make their medical decisions and manage their finances until they can recover sufficiently to do so for themselves. 

If you do not have the proper estate planning documents, your family will have to go to court and have the judge appoint someone to serve as your guardian for health care and other personal matters, and as your conservator to handle financial matters. Even if your family agrees on who that person should be, it will cost thousands of dollars, take months, and put more stress on them during a difficult time.

A California estate planning attorney can talk with you about the estate planning documents you need to protect you and your loved ones. Contact our office today.