One of the essential truths you should realize about estate planning is that your estate plans change as you age. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that we recommend that everyone in the Greenville, North Carolina area create an estate plan as soon as they turn 18. As long as you are mentally capable, you can create an estate plan as soon as you become an adult. But the estate plan that an 18-year-old creates will look much different than a plan that same person will have when they turn 40, or when they retire. Here’s what you should know about how and why estate plans change as you age.
Estate plans change as you age because you start with very little.
An 18-year-old creating an estate plan will probably not have a lot of money or property to worry about. For young adults, estate plans will typically focus on one primary issue, incapacitation. Even though it’s very unlikely for young person becoming acetate or die, the possibility is very real. Younger people are much more likely to engage in riskier activities that could lead to their death or disability. In fact, more than a quarter million young adults have to be hospitalized every year because of disability causing injuries or accidents.
So, when a young person creates an estate plan, that plan will focus on tools that will address what the young person wants to happen should he or she become incapacitated. These tools will include financial powers of attorney, a living will, and durable powers of attorney for healthcare.
Estate plans change as you age because your relationships change.
Moving beyond the early phases of adulthood, we next reached the stage when most people get married or begin serious romantic relationships. If you begin living with someone, or decide to get married, both you and your partner will need to understand the legal implications of your relationship. For example, should your partner become incapacitated while you are living together, will you have the legal authority to make medical decisions on your partner’s behalf? What happens if your partner dies? Will you be entitled to receive an inheritance?
The answers to these types of questions differ significantly based on whether you are married or not. If you’re not married, the only way to give your partner certain legal rights that married couples have would be to create an estate plan that states your wishes. Further, should you be married, both of you will need to create tools that will protect both you and your partner should either of you die or become incapacitated.