I’m sure you’ve heard the term “estate plan” before, and you probably associate that term with very wealthy, high net worth individuals. Although estate planning is utilized often by the mega-rich, it is also a tool everyone should consider at some extent at each stage of their life.
Take for instance a young individual heading off to college; the leading cause of death for young adults is an accident, as opposed to long term health issues. Taking this into account, many of these accidents do result in major health related decisions and it would be advisable that all young adults that hit the age of majority have a health care proxy to give an individual the power to make medical decisions and a living will to express his/her end-of-life decisions.
Whether you are single or in a non-marital relationship, recording your wishes in a will is necessary to get around the state’s default laws. Wisconsin’s probate procedures in its simplest form is not all that rigorous, however, the default laws may not always align with your wishes. It’s important to pay close attention to how things are titled and make sure TOD’s are in place when they need to be.
If you are a new parent, the first thing you should do is get a guardian in place for your child in the event something happens to you. How about life insurance to cover your child’s future expenses?? A testamentary trust is also a good idea so you can appoint someone else to hold onto or control the money you leave behind. This can all be put in force through a will.
If you are a recent divorcee, widowed, or remarrying it would obviously be an opportune time to revise any estate plan you had in place.
I wouldn’t go as far to say everyone needs an estate plan. I do, however; feel it is important that everyone, regardless of the stage of life at least consider an estate plan and understand the risks of NOT having one in place.
The best place to start is discussing it with your team of professionals whether that is a financial advisor, CPA, attorney, or trust officer.