Estate planning is much more than just death planning and giving away your stuff after you die. It’s also about planning for circumstances that you may not have anticipated.
This post is the third installment in our "Everyone Needs and Estate Plan" series. If you missed Examples 2 & 3, click here to read it.
Example 4: You’re young (but over 18), single, and healthy. You decide that since you don’t have kids, and you haven’t made your first million--yet--that you don’t need an estate plan. On your way to work, someone is texting while driving, doesn't see you, and rams right into you. You're severely injured, and the paramedics are called to the scene. You’re taken to the hospital, and you lay there incapacitated. You're still alive, but you lack the ability to make your own decisions or to handle your own affairs. We’re essentially in Example 1, except that you don’t have a spouse here. Your parents and siblings fly in from out of town, and they want to be involved with your care, they want to alert your boss as to what happened, and they also want to sue the negligent driver who caused your injuries. Unfortunately, all they are given is the bad news that they have to go to court to obtain the appropriate legal authority to handle any of your affairs on your behalf.
You're an adult. No one can make decisions for you... except you. Even though your relatives are here--your parents, at that--and they likely have your best interests in mind, no one has the legal authority to handle your affairs for you absent your permission (power of attorney) or court order (conservatorship).
Hyperbole aside, estate planning is about crisis planning before there is a crisis. Once a crisis occurs--be it a bad reaction to medication, or plain bad luck--it’s often too late to have the proper tools in place to face that crisis head-on. In all likelihood you’ll need to spend a great deal of time and money acquiring the right tools to deal with the crisis. It means more stress on top of an already stressful situation for your loved ones.
As you can see, estate planning has little to do with your net worth or your age. It is important for everyone at any age. If you’re over 18 years of age, you absolutely need an estate plan. If you have a family, especially minor children, that need for an estate plan merely increases. To determine what kind of estate plan you and your family needs, please contact us for a free initial consultation.