Many people think that estate planning is only for people who are retired and getting closer to passing away. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every adult, no matter their age or amount of assets, should have an estate plan in place. You also need to continue to update your estate plan throughout your life. Continue reading to learn more about when to start estate planning.

As soon as you turn 18, you are now fully responsible for your healthcare and finances. If something were to happen to you, your parents no longer have the authority to make decisions. At 18, you should establish:

  • A Healthcare Directive that specifics what actions you would like taken with your health if you were incapacitated.
  • A Power of Attorney who has the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf.

In your 30s, you typically own several assets and have started your family. To make sure your family is taken care of in the event you pass away, you will need to add documents to your estate planning:

  • A will that designates who will inherit your assets, who will handle settling your estate, and who has guardianship of your children.
  • A trust that holds ownership of your assets and can transfer the ownership to any trustee you choose. There are several different types of trusts to hold different types of assets.

In your 40s, you should have most of your estate planning completed, and if not, it’s time to get started on it. It’s also a great time to talk to your parents about their estate planning if they do not have any plans in place or have not updated their plans in a long time. It’s important for you to have an understanding of their financial and healthcare wishes so you can ensure their wishes are granted if they are incapacitated or pass away.

In your 50s, 60s, and 70s, it’s time to update your estate planning documents as needed if you have all of the other necessary documents in place already.

There are also several life events where you should update your estate planning, no matter your age.

Opened A Savings Account: Once you open a savings account, designate a beneficiary that would receive the funds in the event you passed away.

Purchased Property: As soon as you purchase property, you need to include it as one of your assets in your estate planning. By taking care of this step, you’ll prevent your loved ones from the probate court process.

Marriage: Any time you get married, you need to update your estate planning. With marriage comes the combination of assets, changes to beneficiaries, and more so it’s important that your estate planning includes these changes.

Having a Child: Whether it’s your first child or your third, the birth of a child is an important time to update your guardianship and finances to make sure your child or children are going to be taken care of.

Receiving an Inheritance: Any time you receive an inheritance of new assets, you need to update your estate planning documents to reflect any additional money or assets you have received.

Divorce: After you are legally divorced, you need to update any estate plans that were made with your previous spouse.

Births In the Family: Anytime there is a new member of your family, consider updating your will or trusts if you would like to leave something to them.

Estate planning is not just something to do before you pass away. It’s a lifetime of decisions and updates to make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. To properly plan your estate, you should meet with a financial advisor and a lawyer. To get started on planning your estate, schedule a consultation with Mooney Lyons. Our financial advisors will be able to walk you through the estate planning process.