Estate Planning in the Springtime of Your Life
By Mildred V. Palmer, Attorney at Law
Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC
I went for a walk this morning around Pioneer Park. It was early and there was snow on the ground. But even though it is winter, the sun has shown its face this week. Springtime is just around the corner. It made me think about my dealings with clients who are in the springtime of their lives. I am often asked when a client should consider putting together an estate plan. What is too young?
At Age 18 Execute Health Care Documents:
18! 18! That is just a kid. What could an 18 year old possibly need? The fact of the matter is that at age 18, a child becomes a legal adult. That means he or she is entitled to make his or her own decisions about health care and property. Let’s assume the 18 year old goes off to college and is in a car accident. Shouldn’t mom or dad have the legal right to speak to your doctor and access your medical records? At age 18, you should execute a power of attorney for health care and name an agent, sign a living will if you do not want to be kept alive on life support, put your wishes for organ donation in writing, and execute a HIPAA authorization allowing your family access to your medical records and name an agent for financial matters.
Age 25- Execute a Basic Estate Plan:
Around age 25, most people will be working at some chosen occupation. Along with that job, they may have benefits such as life insurance and a retirement account. In addition, buying that first home may be occurring or just around the corner. Putting a basic estate plan with a will is recommended at this point. In addition, like the 18-year old above, health care should be addressed.
Age 30- Plan a Solid Foundation:
Around age 30, people enter the capital expenditure years. They are purchasing homes, furniture and cars, and growing financial assets. This is the age when people are involved in more mature relationships, including marriage, and when they have children. This is also the time to address some of life’s more grown up questions. In addition to health care and basic distribution schemes that the 18 and 25 year old are considering, the 30 year old should give thought to guardianship of minors, avoiding estate taxes resulting from not planning, inheriting from parent’s estates, and their own possible disability. My mother told me that people really grow up in their 30s. I think she is right. Life becomes more complicated in our assets and relationships. Planning for this complexity can achieve better results.
Maybe none of this is necessary. After all, the probability of dying is relatively low when you are young. But that is precisely why a plan is a good idea. The shock and trauma of a major accident or illness for someone in the springtime of their lives is very hard to handle. By taking some simple steps in advance of need, if the unthinkable happens, and let’s face it, sometimes it does, your family can take care of you and the people you love. Springtime is a great time to plan.
Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.
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