When to Start Estate Planning
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When to Start Estate Planning
Many people think that estate planning is only for the elderly or the wealthy. Perhaps they may be middle-aged and in good health. Maybe they are young and in college. The truth is most people regardless of their age can benefit from having an estate plan in place. But, there are some specific times when you should consider either starting an estate plan or updating your existing estate plan and we will discuss these below.
Note: If you want to brush up on the basics of Georgia estate planning (Wills, Probate, Power of Attorney, Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts and Advanced Healthcare Directives) take a look at these free ebooks.
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At what age do most people do estate planning?
I have been helping people establish their estate plans for many years and it usually starts with the free consultation. At the free consultation, I set aside an hour to learn about their details, their goals, their wishes. Then, I design an estate plan that will meet all of those goals and wishes.
What I have seen is there is no specific age for someone to get started with estate planning. One might think the majority of my clients are elderly because they want to “get their affairs in order.” But, in reality, I have just as many younger clients because they want to name Guardians for their children and, in Georgia, you should have a Last Will and Testament to do that. The point is it should be the “goals” and not the “age” that should determine when to start estate planning. Here are some of the typical “goals” where you should consider either starting an estate plan or updating your existing estate plan:
If you have minor children and you want to appoint a Guardian for them should something happen to you or your spouse, you should consider starting an estate plan. In Georgia, a Last Will and Testament will allow you to designate a Guardian for your children. Otherwise, the Court may not know who you would want to raise your children and may not choose a person you prefer. A Last Will and Testament can avoid having an uncertain Judge choosing who raises your children. It’s simply a no-brainer if you have minor children. You should start estate planning.
Own Property in Other States
Another time you should consider starting an estate plan is when you own property in another state. The reason is simple. When you own real estate in your own name or without Rights of Survivorship with another person (say a spouse for example), that property will have to go through probate. Since each State governs its own probate process, it means you will have to go through probate in each State where you own a piece of property. Most people want to avoid the probate process for their loved ones when they pass. Imagine them having to go through it multiple times in whichever State you own property. In this case, you might want to consider starting an estate plan with the Revocable Living Trust as the centerpiece. The Revocable Living Trust, among other things, can help your family avoid probate in every state where you own real estate.
May Become Disabled
For some people, they are facing medical issues that are beyond their control. For others, it is the possibility of becoming disabled through an automobile accident or workplace-related accident. From going off to college when you are young and experiencing a car wreck to simply going to the mailbox when you are older and slipping on your way, becoming disabled is an ever-present possibility and one that can be addressed through estate planning.
That’s why estate planning is important regardless of your age and where almost everyone can see a benefit. If you want your family to be able to pay your bills, handle your finances, or access your medical records or talk to the doctor on your behalf if you become disabled, you should start estate planning. Having a Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Directive for Health Care in place can make worlds of difference.
What is the first step in the estate planning process?
The easiest first step in the estate planning process is to call our office at (678) 809-4922 to schedule your free consultation. It is easy because all you have to do is call the number and we will assist you with the rest of the details.
But, here are some other steps to consider when you start estate planning. First, consider your goals. Do you want to choose who will raise your minor children? Do you want to put aside protection for a child with special needs? Are you interested in minimizing taxes, court fees and legal expenses? Is there a charity you wish to support upon your passing? These are just some of the many questions you should consider and we will gladly walk you through at your free consultation.
Next, list your assets. The list may include things like real estate, investments, checking and savings accounts, personal items, insurance policies, or business interests, among many other assets. While this is fairly straightforward, I’ll be glad to help you brainstorm assets you may not think of yourself.
Finally, consider the individuals in your life whom you want to receive a portion of your estate upon your passing. This could include individuals like your spouse or children, but could also include groups like non-profit organizations.
Starting your Estate Plan doesn’t have to be complicated
We have been doing this for many years and we are here to assist you with getting your estate plan into place. Simply call us at (678) 809-4922 and one of my Assistants will help you set up your free consultation. You may also click here to access our Free Consultation form which will allow us to reach out to you with the next steps to starting your estate plan. Whether you need a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Living Trust, or want to discuss your goals and wishes with us, we are here to help you start an estate plan.