When is the right time to think about Estate Planning? Are there certain life events that should make you think about creating, or updating, an Estate Plan?
The short answer: There is no wrong time to think about your Estate Plan.
However, there are certain times in life that should make you stop and think about whether your Estate Plan is up to date. Let's take a look at a few key life events that should make you think about updating an Estate Plan.
1. You became a new parent, or had another child.
Thinking about your Estate Plan after the birth of a child is very important. Creating, or updating, a Will allows you to determine who should be appointed to serve as Guardian for your minor children in the event that the unexpected happens to you. You can also use a Will or more advanced Estate Planning tools, such as a Revocable Living Trust, to ensure that your assets are not only passed down to your children, but that the assets you leave to your children are appropriately managed and protected from creditors.
If you have recently had a child, you should definitely plan for the future, and the unexpected.
2. On the death of a family member.
After the death of a family member, the last thing anyone wants to think about is Estate Planning, but it's times like these that should make you think about what happens when your time eventually comes. You might also need to think about whether your family member was someone who was included in your Estate Plan.
Maybe they were designated as the guardian of your minor children. Or perhaps they were a beneficiary of your Estate. In either case, you should update your Estate Plan to reflect the change in circumstance.
3. You turn 18.
Many people don't think about how legal rights and responsibilities change when you turn 18. If you think about it though, a lot changes when you turn 18.
When you turn 18, you take on the sole responsibility of making your own healthcare decisions. If you were to become incapacitated with no hope of recovery, does your family know what you would want to happen? Would you want to be an organ donor? Would you want to be kept on life support? An Advanced Healthcare Directive can help not only inform what your wishes would be, but can allow you to designate the person, or people, you would want to make those healthcare decisions for you.
4. Any time.
There really is no wrong time to think about planning your Estate. Whether you are mainly concerned about designating people to administer your Estate, serve as Guardian for you children, or plan for tax consequences of passing on a large Estate and creditor protection for what you pass on, now is the time.
Seek out the advice and guidance of an attorney to help you ensure that you have the correct documents for your situation, and that your documents are executed properly.