20 May I Need an Estate Planning Attorney? But I’m only 30!
Your career is thriving, you’re about to get married – or maybe you’ve just tied the knot – and death is the furthest thing from your mind. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the possibility at all. Time’s on your side, but an estate planning attorney will help you put together a plan and set it in place before you need it, just in case.
About That Brother You Haven’t Spoken to in Years…
Even if your assets are minimal right now, they probably won’t always be, and if anything should happen to you, someone must take ownership of your assets. If you don’t make a Will, the law takes an educated guess as to who you would probably want to receive the fruits of your labors. States have statutory lists for this, provided for by law. The lists presume that you’d want your family to take your property, so your relatives will receive it in an order of priority. If you’re married, the lion’s share usually goes to your spouse – unless you have kids from another marriage or relationship. In this case, some of your estate will be diverted to these children. If you’re not married and you don’t have kids, your parents will typically inherit everything, and if your parents aren’t living, your siblings will take your property. The court won’t care that you and your brother had a falling out and you haven’t spoken to him since your 21st birthday. He’ll inherit from you anyway. Ask yourself if you really want the law to decide these things for you.
Who’s Going to Take Care of Your Children?
If you have children, someone has most likely already urged you to make an estate plan. You’ll want to name a guardian for your minor kids, someone to raise them if you and their other parent should die in a common event. But consider this – minor children can’t legally own property or manage their own money. If you don’t leave a Will, all your property will go to them. The court must not only name a guardian to care for them, but it must appoint someone called a conservator to manage their inheritance for them as well, at least until they reach your state’s age of majority. If you’re divorced, the conservator may be your ex. It could even be that brother you haven’t spoken to in years. If you create a Will and state in it that you want your children’s inheritances to move into a testamentary trust when you die, you can name a trustee of your own choosing to manage their inheritances. You can even state when you want your children to receive the property. If 18 seems a bit young, you can leave instructions that the trustee should remain in position and the trust should remain open, holding the property for them, until they’re a little older. You can also name a conservator in your Will, just as you would a guardian.
It’s Not Just About Dying
Your estate doesn’t suddenly come into being when you pass away. You own it right now. An estate plan can address what will happen if you should become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. You can have a power of attorney, either durable or springing, so someone can take over your personal business if you can’t see to it yourself. A durable power of attorney goes into effect when you sign it and remains in effect if you should become incapacitated. A springing power of attorney doesn’t go into effect until you become incapacitated. It’s a matter of personal choice – you can elect whichever you’re most comfortable with. You also have the option of creating a living trust to transfer your property at your death instead of leaving a Will. The successor trustee you name in the trust documents can take over management of your assets if for some reason you can’t do it yourself.
An estate plan can be uniquely your own – you set the rules according to your own needs and concerns. If you’d like to know more about powers of attorney, living and testamentary trusts or just the basics of writing a Will, contact us today – even if you’re only 30!