Stages of Estate Planning

A common misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy.  In fact, there is substantial benefit to estate planning for people in all stages of life.

For young adults, it is important to give someone authority to receive medical information and make medical decisions if they cannot.  Those things that you may have routinely handled for your children over the years often require legal authority once your child becomes 18.  Similarly, access to financial accounts should be reviewed.

For young families, a Will is invaluable to designate guardians for your children and to provide for ways that assets can be managed for your children should something happen to you while they are still minors.  Florida law now allows a parent to designate other adults who can make medical decisions for their children as well (see here), which can be very helpful where family members share caregiver responsibilities.

Over the years your focus will shift.  Your estate planning meetings may turn to ways to minimize or eliminate probate.  For many people retirement accounts are the largest single asset, and properly incorporating those assets in your plan deserves a conversation.  Second marriages and concerns about adult children are common topics as well for clients of all backgrounds.  Business owners need to talk about business succession, and professionals need to look at asset protection and creditor exposure.

The key is to revisit your plan at major life events – births, deaths, marriages, children becoming adults, etc.  Review how these events impact your plan and meet with your team of trusted advisors – tax, financial, and legal – and to review your plan periodically.  We would be honored to be part of your team.

Posted in Estate Planning Law