Many individuals put off creating an estate plan until they are within striking distance of retirement age or are even older than many retirees. In truth, it is important for everyone over the age of 18 to embrace the process of estate planning. Once you become a legal adult, it is important for you to outline your wishes in regards to your medical care and your property in the event of your incapacitation or your death.
If you are unsure of how to begin the estate planning process, please do not hesitate to speak to an attorney experienced in these matters. If you attempt to draft critical documents without the assistance of an expert, the documents may turn out to be unenforceable. The good news is that unless you have a great deal of wealth or complex estate planning needs, you will likely be able to construct a solid estate plan with only a few important documents.
First, it is important to draft a medical power of attorney. No matter how old you are, you should have this document drafted and updated as often as you need to. This legal tool will allow any adult you care to designate to make health care decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions on your own.
Second, it is important to draft a living will. This document will allow you to specify your wishes for end-of-life care. When drafting these first two documents, please consider having a candid conversation with trusted loved ones about your wishes and please store these documents in a safe place that a few trusted loved ones will think to look in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Four Estate-Planning Documents Everyone Should Have,” Tom Lauricella, April 20, 2014