As a young professional, life is dynamic. You are likely buying your first home, getting married and starting a family. With these significant milestones comes added responsibility for your new husband/wife, children, pets and debts. Yet, while many young professionals’ parents are meeting with us every day to determine an estate plan that will provide for their spouse, children and grandchildren, most young professionals fail to have even a basic estate plan in place to protect their growing families and assets.
Further, many young professionals commonly mistake estate planning for something that they will need if and when they have an “estate.” Nonetheless, estate planning encompasses much more than planning for where your assets will go upon your death. Estate planning includes:
1. Planning for the guardianship of your children- If you have children, you have likely spoken with a close family member or friend about taking care of your children in the unthinkable event that you were to pass. These conversations are important, but they do not carry the day in a court of law without proper documentation. Therefore, it is paramount that you have a guardianship designation properly documented so that your children’s future is decided by you and not left up to the State and the court system.
2. Planning for incapacity – Most young professionals have an air of invincibility when it comes to their health and well-being. Nevertheless, in an honest moment, you know that life happens and even the young are not immune to car wrecks, illness or other calamities. Therefore, you need to make sure there are proper documents in place to ensure someone can make medical, financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
3. Planning for the distribution of your assets – Currently, your estate may not be much in your eyes, but without proper documentation in place, your family may be forced to incur unnecessary grief, discord or probate costs to settle your estate. Taking a few minutes on the front end will be worth innumerable minutes and ease to your friends and family on the back end. Furthermore, without proper planning and beneficiary designations, your assets will likely end up in the hands of unwanted beneficiaries and not those who you would have intended to benefit from them.
4. Planning for your pets – Many young professionals have pets that are their best friends and companions and are a significant part of their life. While they are totally devoted to you, your pets are also totally dependent on you. Consequently, you need proper documentation in place to ensure your pet is cared for by the person and in the manner you desire, including leaving monies for your pet’s medical care and other needs.
Estate planning is not just for your parents or grandparents and is not limited those with large estates. It is something you must do to ensure that your children, husband/wife and those you love, including your pets, are cared for upon your passing or incapacity. If you have any questions about estate planning, we would encourage you to call or schedule an appointment to visit with us.