5 Reasons Estate Planning Matters For You

Estate planning might sound like something you don’t need. You might think that you’re too young to need an estate plan. You might think you don’t have enough assets for an estate plan.

The truth is, estate planning is for everyone. Whether you’re young or old, wealthy or middle class, male or female…you need an estate plan. A recent survey by LegalZoom found that nearly 60% of Americans don’t have an estate plan or even a will. This is unfortunate because 100% of those surveyed will die one day.

Check out these 5 reasons estate planning should matter to you.

1. Estate Planning Matters for Younger People

As soon as you turn 18, there are some estate planning documents you should have in place. What documents should you have prepared? Let’s explore a scenario that is far too common in today’s society.

if a young person is involved in a serious car accident and they end up in a coma, their mother cannot tell the doctor what treatment they want, even if she claims their son or daughter might have told her what they wanted doctors to do in the past.

Because the child is over 18 years old and technically an adult, the courts get to decide.

College students need to be made aware that their parents cannot make decisions for them, even if they are listed as emergency contacts unless they are given power of attorney or appointed as health care proxy. Young people might not be married, and they might not have very many resources.

Nonetheless, their designated agent or health care surrogate is almost more important than the fact that they have health care, because doctors will do whatever they can to keep a young person alive.

Young people also need to have something in place to allow loved ones access to funds (student loans or bank accounts) in the event that the worst-case scenario occurs because, by the time their family members have gone through the courts to stop tuition payments to the university, their comatose student’s limited bank account could be empty.

It is imperative to have at least some healthcare directives in place once you turn 18.

2. Estate Planning Matters When You Have Children

If you have children, an estate plan is essential. The main issue here is establishing guardianship. If both parents of a child are deceased, then the court will place the children with the closest family members (aunts, uncles, or other living relatives).

But what if your sister is irresponsible? What if you have a brother battling drug and alcohol addiction? Many times, family members are not the ideal guardians for your children. The courts do not know all of this. You do.

You may want your children to be raised by a close friend, or have a specific sibling of yours in mind. You need to establish guardianship for your children so the courts don’t place them where you don’t want them.

3. Estate Planning Matters for Retirees

For retired persons, estate planning is not just about financial planning and retirement planning. It’s also about putting in place documents to secure retired clients’ quality of life and maintain relationships after they pass.

For example, by establishing a living will and HIPAA authorization, retirees can stipulate the kinds of treatments they want: Whether it be life-sustaining treatments or a do-not-resuscitate order.

Younger retirees might want a life-sustaining treatment in place, but older people might want a document stating their desire to have some treatments withheld if they suffer a stroke or other sudden catastrophic ailment.

With these plans in place, family members don’t have to try to navigate the courts to get treatment approved during a stressful time. This process can be very laborious and prolonged, and can bring additional pain to the affected person and their family.

4. Estate Planning Matters Regardless of Wealth

Many people in the Downriver area think that they do not need an estate plan because they aren’t wealthy. The word estate is usually where the hang-up resides. When thinking of estate planning, don’t think of a 200 acre ranch, or the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. Think of all of your assets.

Do you own a house? Do you own vehicles? Do you have bank accounts? Do you want to leave these assets to your children or loved ones? If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. That’s why estate planning matters.

Maybe you don’t own a house or a car. But maybe you have your mother’s jewelry and want to ensure your children receive it. You also don’t want to burden your children with the rigors of probate court. For these reasons and so many more, you will want to have more than a simple will in place.

If you think you don’t need an estate plan, check out this list of things to do before you die. You will be amazed at all of the assets you have.

5. Estate Planning Matters for Your Loved Ones

Loss is difficult. The emotional strain of losing a loved one can be overwhelming, especially for children, parents and spouses. After a close family member dies, there is much to be done. Funeral plans need to be made, documents need to be located, and the estate must be dealt with.

Now, add to that grief a long and expensive court proceeding. Probate can take months, especially now with the restrictions of Covid-19.

What about healthcare? Do you want family members agonizing over your care? Just imagine an argument over life support. Now you see why an estate plan is necessary.

Downriver residents need estate plans. Contact an estate planning attorney at The Mitten Law Firm today.

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