Your 20s were for learning who you are, engaging in new activities, meeting new people and making decisions that had nothing to do with your long-term future. Yours 30s are typically when it’s time to get serious.
As you settle more deeply into your career and building your family, you’re likely thinking further ahead than you were before. To that end, this is a good time to start thinking about your estate plan.
When you hear the words “estate plan,” you may think about wealthy individuals who are older, own large properties and have high account balances. The truth is that everyone has an “estate,” whether large or small. If you own any physical property or hold bank accounts, you have an estate.
Here are four key reasons to consider creating a plan now rather than wait until you are closer to retirement.
1. Protect your assets if you’re incapacitated
While you may associate an estate plan with what happens after you die, they can be useful while you are living. Estate plans can include a health care directive, which allows you to dictate what types of medical care you do or don’t want if you cannot voice your opinion. You can also establish a power of attorney to make financial and medical decisions for you under these circumstances.
2. Dispense your property, properly
Without a will or a living trust, the state typically decides how to divide your assets. If you have certain belongings or bank accounts you want transferred to specific people, an estate plan can achieve that. It can also allow you to set aside and protect money or property for specific purposes, such as charitable giving.
3. Care for your children
Estate plans can also include a guardianship for minor children, which is important if both parents die while the children are young. Choosing a guardian is a difficult decision, but a key aspect to any parent’s estate plan.
Through an estate plan, you can also establish a trust for your children and name a trustee. A trustee oversees the assets your children would inherit and make sure they receive them in the way and at the time you want, no earlier or later.
4. Ease your family’s grief
Making decisions in a time of stress and sorrow is very difficult. It’s even harder if your loved ones don’t know what you would want. You may think they would know you well enough to decide, but they may not feel so confident. By creating an estate plan, you take out any guesswork and allow them to focus on their grief.
It’s never easy to think about what would happen in the event of your death but having a plan in place can provide essential peace of mind to you and your family.