Perhaps you think you are too young to consider creating an estate plan. Perhaps there are other obstacles that have prevented you from moving ahead on this effort.
However, this is the time to get your affairs in order to prevent family feuds, uncertainty, misdirection of assets and other consequences of failure to act.
What could happen
What if you and your spouse die in a car crash? What happens to your children? If you die without a will, a judge will decide their fate. What if you survive a car crash but are left brain dead? How will the doctors know whether you want your family to pull the plug? What becomes of your unmarried partner if you drown in a surfing accident without a will? Without your written direction, your partner will have no legal right to manage your estate as you would have wished.
Without a will
You may not realize it, but more than half of the adults in the U.S. do not have a will. You may be a member of this group. No matter what your age or financial circumstances, you should have one. If you do not, the state will determine how to distribute your assets when you die. For example, if you are single and have no children, your assets will likely go to your parents or siblings, but nothing will go to the charity you have long supported.
Powers of attorney
Creating a will is an excellent start to basic planning. You might also consider drawing up two other documents: a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. The first would allow the person of your choice to make health care decisions if you cannot do so yourself, and the second would permit someone you trust to make financial decisions for the same reason.
The road ahead
Even if you only begin with the basics, creating the elements of an estate plan is a path to peace of mind. With legal assistance, you can construct a solid will and other estate planning documents, and you will be able to give your loved ones one of the best gifts of your life.