Estate Planning Basics

As a general rule, everyone should put together an estate plan. What exactly that means will depend on your circumstances: net worth; trust planning; tax strategies, etc. Do not, however, fall into the trap of thinking that you need a certain net worth in order to need a will or estate planning. You do not. True, certain aspects of estate planning may not be justified based on one’s assets – a trust is not for everyone – but at a minimum every adult should consider the basics. This means that you should have, at a minimum, a will, health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney.

The will serves several functions, from controlling transfer of assets upon one’s death, to appointing a guardian for any minor children. It can be as complex or comprehensive as your needs and goals may require, and can include other aspects such as a testamentary trust, which is often used to put assets in trust for minor children upon the will-maker’s death. The financial and healthcare powers of attorney name certain individuals to make financial and medical decisions for you. These powers can be effective immediately upon signing or only upon incapacity. Which type is right for you depends on various factors. The health care power of attorney is often coupled with the living will or advanced directive, which gives instructions for the appointed individual to follow for making end-of-life medical decisions.

There is no test to determine the right time to put an estate plan in place. But consider major life events as a guideline. If you are getting married, having another child, making updates to financial plans, etc., don’t forget about your estate planning needs. It’s really never too early.



The information herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The information is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter.  The above is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  Consult your attorney with questions.