Too many people make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is only something you need to do when you are getting close to retirement. In fact, according to a recent survey by Caring.com, a whopping 78 percent of people under the age of 36 do not have a will or trust in place.
Even though roughly 81 percent of people have a will in place by the time they are 72 or older, not having an estate plan when you are younger can be an unfortunate oversight for a few different reasons.
- An estate plan isn't just about your assets. You can also name people to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Without a living will or medical and/or legal powers of attorney in place, decisions about your care if you pass away or become incapacitated could be left in the hands of someone other than the person you would have chosen.
- An estate plan is just as much about protecting your family as it is about protecting yourself. If you have parents, a spouse, partner or kids, you will want to ensure they don't have to take on some unbearable burden like sorting through your assets or making decisions about your health without guidance from you. That guidance can be given in an estate plan.
- Even if you don't have substantial assets now, you still have things worth protecting. Even young people have retirement accounts and investments, and many can benefit from setting up living trusts or other types of trusts as their assets begin to increase.
It is understandable that younger people feel confident in the decision to put off estate planning, especially when they are healthy and have no dependents. However, life can change in the blink of an eye, for better or worse. Having some basic plans in place that provide some critical guidance in the event of these changes can be a source of great comfort and relief.
If you have questions about estate planning, whether you are 30 or 70, speaking with an attorney can help you assess your options and make some informed decisions about how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your future.