Focusing on business, probate, and estate planning legal work allows me to interact with differently situated people. What they need in an attorney can be diverse. This makes initial consultations important. There we can figure out what to give special attention to and how to craft the representation. When it comes to estate planning, stage of life often seems dictate the questions I get. Seasoned individuals have made their money and want to see it efficiently planned for. Their children are grown. Younger families have a different set of goals that will be the focus of this post.
It is not surprising that 30-something-year-olds are curious whether or not they should have a will in place. And my typical answer is “yes”. I do, however, find it interesting that they are usually embarrassed to bring it up. Among adults, there is no age requirement to plan for yourself and your family. In fact, young couples have particular reasons to think about talking to a wills and estates lawyer. Here are a few of those reasons:
Your Minor Children
A common misunderstanding is that a last will and testament just directs where your assets go when you pass on. The will addresses that but it does more. What happens if the parent or parents are no longer around to care for their kids? The will can nominate guardians. Families and courts want to know your wishes. A related topic is how assets get passed down to young children. Will it be in trust until they reach a certain age? How will that trust operate? A will & trust lawyer can help you create a plan.
Trusts and/or a last will and testament are a great opportunity to make life easier on your spouse if you are gone. Without any estate planning, intestacy laws will dictate where your belongings go. Depending on titling, some jointly held assets might go outright to your spouse. Otherwise, they go half to your spouse and half to your children in South Carolina. The situation can easily get complicated with no estate planning.
Protecting your loved ones is not the only reason to meet with an estate planning lawyer. You should consider documents that will operate while you are living. Trusts can be structured in many different ways for all sorts of needs. A general power of attorney can also be useful to plan in case of unavailability. A living will and healthcare power of attorney allow you to make decisions now for a time when you can no longer speak up.
When you meet with an estate planning attorney, you might realize there is more to discuss than you thought. You may also find that you are at the exact age to be having the conversation.