Estate planning at a young age is something that too few people consider. From graduating college to getting married, building a career, finding a home and having children, there are far too many things on a young person’s mind to want to consider what will happen after they die.
Yet, speaking with a Lexington estate planning attorney is something that should be on everyone’s agenda when they get out on their own. So, if estate planning is not only for ”old folks”, then what is the best age for a person to start thinking about writing a will or settling a trust?
The short answer is: you are never too young to start planning.
It’s a truth that is not meant to scare you, but as soon as you have something of financial (or even sentimental) value, you should have a plan in place that distributes your property to whom you want, when you want, and how you want.
It All Starts With Preparation
The common assumption is that estate planning is merely a means of passing on assets, and therefore those who have very few assets don’t need to draft a will or create a trust.
But, there is far more preparation involved in estate planning than declaring who gets what. For example, what would happen if you were to become incapacitated and unable to make legal, medical, and financial decisions?
Once you are legally an adult (18 years old, in most states, including Kentucky), you should immediately set up a healthcare and financial power of attorney. This will designate a person who will have the authority to make important medical and financial decisions should you become unable to do so. You should also consider establishing what is commonly known as a “living will,” which is the equivalent of a DNR or “Do Not Resituate” Order.
Why Plan At All?
When a person dies without any type of will or trust set up, all of their financial assets and property are subject to the laws of the state. Simply put: you will have no control over who inherits what you once owned. Everything is left up to pre-determined laws that have been set up by the state.
This process can be lengthy because of the necessary function of probate courts, meaning that your spouse, children, family and friends may have to wait to inherit your assets if they are not specifically included in your will or trust.
It is also important to consider that in Kentucky, the laws of intestacy that control the assets of people who die without a will may not distribute an estate the way you think. For example, when someone dies with a spouse and living parents, but no children, the surviving spouse and the parents split intestate property equally. As you can imagine, this often leads to protracted, unnecessary disputes. Taking the time to do the appropriate planning can help avoid potential in-fighting between your loved ones.
It Is Always Best to Act Early
You really are never too young to start planning your estate, and it is always best to start while you are still sound of mind. The process is simple when compared to what your beneficiaries will have to go through dealing with intestacy laws. For advice on how to start, give our team at the Law Office of Jonathan A. Hall, PLLC a call today.