College – check. First adult job – check. Significant other – check. 401k with employer match – check. Congratulations. You’ve fully embraced adulthood. What’s missing?
You should probably start thinking about estate planning. That’s right – estate planning. It’s not just for your parents anymore; though if they haven’t done this, please share this article with them. In addition, estate planning is not just for those who are wealthy. Everyone benefits when clear plans exist for their finances to be taken care of after their death.
Estate planning is for adults of all ages.
Properly done, it comprises several legal documents, based on your specific needs. DeZayas Law Group can help you identify those needs, then ensure you and your finances are protected. As your assets and family grow, we’ll work with you to adjust your estate plan, as necessary. When you reach legal adulthood at age 18, your parents no longer have the right to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf. While no one likes to think about serious health issues, it’s important to talk with a lawyer about:
- A Health Care Directive, which allows you to specify actions that you want (or don’t want) to be taken if you are rendered unable to make health decisions for yourself. This is similar to a Living Will but more detailed and precise.
- A Power of Attorney, that designates who has the authority to make decisions for you if you can’t. While it may be the same person, you should consider naming a medical Power of Attorney for health-related decisions and a financial Power of Attorney for decisions involving money. Many individuals name a spouse, but sometimes it makes sense to name another family member or trusted friend who understands your wishes.
By the time you buy your first home and start a family, it’s time to consider other legal protections for your estate with these additional documents:
- A Will details such wishes as who will inherit your assets and oversee the settlement of your estate.
- A Trust designates someone to take ownership of assets you specify and manage them on behalf of your beneficiaries. Various types of assets can be included, such as property or retirement accounts. Trusts also take various forms, such as living trusts or revocable trusts, and it’s important to discuss the best option for your situation with your attorney.
- Beneficiary designations will be needed for Wills and Trusts to be passed on to those you choose. Assets such as 401k accounts or life insurance policies can be passed directly to beneficiaries named on those accounts, so you’ll want to double-check consistency. Example: if your life insurance policy names a sibling as beneficiary, you won’t want to name a cousin as the beneficiary in your Will.
- Guardianship designations come into play if you have, or are planning to have, children. This document expresses your wishes for who will care for minor children if you and your spouse die or become incapacitated.
Once you and your lawyer, and possibly your financial advisor, have established your estate plan, you will need to review and update the plan as your circumstances change. Significant life changes that would trigger a review include:
- Divorce, or death of your spouse
- A second (or more) marriage
- Additional children
- Disability (yours or your children)
- Death of a Trustee or beneficiary
- A move to a different state
In addition, estate laws vary by state and federal tax laws change. For example, Florida law requires your personal representative be related to you or be a Florida resident. DeZayas Law Group will help you keep your documents up to date with legal changes, to protect your interests and wishes. Not only will you have properly signed and notarized copies of your plan, but we will maintain copies in the event of emergency.
AARP reports that many Baby Boomers have not yet created complete estate plans. Adult children are often blind-sided by the overwhelming responsibilities of managing their parents’ estates and the probate process when proper legal steps have been overlooked. It’s not too late, or too early, for you or your parents to start.
DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710 or learn more about us here.