Estate planning is not meant to be something done solely in the last chapter of life. Think of it as a plan for all the chapters of your life—a plan that you should start now rather than later. Whether you believe it or not, you have an estate.
This was the topic of a recent article in The Times of Trenton titled “The best estate planning covers all stages of life.”
For the new college graduate, estate planning can mean setting up a budget, putting away some savings and paying off student loans. This is also a good time to put together your medical directives. Whether you're young or old these are a critical part of an estate plan.
Just married? You should be planning now to provide for your spouse in the event of your death or disability.
When starting a family, it's never too soon to invest in a college savings fund and arrange for guardians (i.e., back-up parents) should your children become orphans.
As the nest empties, you might downsize your home to have more cash for investments and plan for the eventual efficient distribution of your estate. Annual gifting to your “adult” children can be very rewarding and a great way to test their financial maturity. Do they “blow it” or are they “good stewards” with it?
Finally, when retirement is right around the corner, you can feel good that you have planned for many years to stop working full-time and to devote your time to other interests. You've taken care of your spouse and family, and everything is in order.
Time to relax and enjoy!
Whenever someone says they don't have an estate plan I remind them that isn't true. Idaho has one for you as a default. If you want the state to determine what happens to your estate when you die all you have to do is - nothing. So it's really a question of which estate plan you prefer, the one you and your family draw up through thoughtful and open discussion or the one Idaho created? Everyone has an estate and everyone needs to plan.