There are so many excuses people can invent to justify procrastinating about estate planning. Most people think that if they are getting ready to retire or don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal property that they don’t really need to estate plan.
However, there are many times in your life when having an estate plan is crucial for you and the people you love. Having a plan in place when you encounter any of the four situations below will do a lot to provide you peace of mind and protect your loved ones.
When you become a parent
Adding a new remember to your family through birth, marriage or adoption is an incredible experience. All of the joy of new parenthood also comes with the stress of parental obligations.
Your children will need a guardian if anything happens to you while they are still minors. They also will rely on you to leave some sort of legacy that can help them cover their living expenses and basic needs. Estate planning during pregnancy or after the birth of a child is very common.
When you need state insurance
Your health or financial circumstances can change with very little warning. Your employer might go under, effectively eliminating your income, or you could get diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition like multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease.
When you have major health needs or no income, Medicaid may be the only way you can get medical care. Applying for Medicaid triggers a review of several years of financial transactions, so planning well before you would need to get benefits is often crucial to the success of your application during financial hardship.
When you have major assets
Whether you own a farm or a business, personal property worth more than a few thousand dollars will usually require careful planning.
Deciding whom to bequeath your property to is important, as is planning for a smooth transfer of ownership and the minimization of tax obligations. Moving property to a trust or changing how you own it can be a big part of estate planning when you have assets you want to protect.
When you become medically incapacitated
A stroke or a fall off the roof might leave you unconscious for days or weeks. Especially if you don’t have a spouse, there may not be anyone to speak on your behalf for medical care or handle your financial concerns. Estate plans that include a living will can protect those who become medically incapacitated by empowering someone to help manage their needs.
Understanding that changes in all of these situations can be hard to predict might motivate you to start estate planning when you recognize the signs of upcoming life changes.