Planning ahead for when you pass away is important at any age. This process is called estate planning. In this blog, we’d like to lay out some specific milestone actions that you can take to be prepared along the way.
Graduating high school or college and entering “adulthood” is the first milestone. At this point, most are still single and don’t have many assets. However, you can still take the following steps to prepare for the unexpected:
- Power of Attorney (POA). A POA is a document that gives someone else, called an agent, the ability to act and make decisions on your behalf if you are unable. Separate healthcare and financial powers of attorney can be created to allow someone to make decisions regarding your medical care and financial accounts. This is important because there may be a time when you’re in the hospital without the ability to communicate with your doctors. A proper POA will make your wishes for care known. These are documented in writing and should be given to a trusted person who will then have the ability to interact with your healthcare providers on your behalf.
- Name beneficiaries. An easy way to make sure your financial assets are inherited by the people you want is to name them as beneficiaries. Make sure your 401(k) or IRA has beneficiaries listed, along with your bank accounts (often called “Transfer of Death”).
Getting married/starting a family
When you get married and start a family, your estate plan gets a little more complex. Not only do you have a spouse, but you have minor children, a house, and more financial assets. In addition to the steps above, at this point, consider adding the following:
- Last Will and Testament. Simply referred to as a “will,” this includes at least three things:
- Specifying how you want your assets distributed upon your death.
- Naming a guardian for your minor children.
- Naming a personal representative who is authorized to handle the distribution of your estate.
- Beneficiary Deed. A simple document that transfers ownership of your house upon your death. This document is filed with your county recorder’s office.
- Revocable Living Trust. A trust isn’t just for the wealthy. Having a trust at this stage in life includes the ability to specify the ages your children receive their inheritance (instead of them receiving a large sum of money when they turn 18). Think you don’t have that much money for them to spend? Also, consider the amount of life insurance they would receive.
Empty-nesters and pre-retirement
During this stage, you’ve likely built wealth and your kids may have families of their own. It may be time to consider the following:
- Revocable Living Trust. The purpose of having a trust later in life may be different than when you were a young family. Now, you may be interested in the ability of a trust to avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, or provide creditor protection to your heirs.
In conclusion, estate planning should be accomplished at every stage of adulthood. At Stewardship, we make it easy and affordable to get the documents you want! We partner with a Certified Legal Document Preparer to help educate you and draft your documents. Don’t put this off any longer—schedule a time with us now to help protect your family.