Most people think about estate planning as a “one and done” kind of deal: They figure they’ll write up a will and get whatever other paperwork they need in place and then forget about it.
That’s not actually how things should be done. Just like you, your estate planning needs will change over time. Here’s a rough breakdown of what you need to consider at different stages of your life.
When you’re young, single and childless
If you’ve just left home and you’re still unmarried and childless, you may think there’s no reason to bother with estate plans. However, everyone should have at least a simple will in place, as well as powers of attorney for their medical decisions and financial matters.
Should something happen and you’re unable to make decisions for yourself, someone you love and trust can step in and pay your bills, handle your financial affairs and make medical decisions on your behalf — without having to go to court to gain that right.
When you’re older, have an established relationship and may have children
This is when you need to think harder about your position. Your estate plans may need to evolve several times during this stage of your life. You may want to make your spouse your primary heir and transfer those powers of attorney to them.
It may also be time to look into a trust for your loved ones, especially if you have children. That can help them manage financially if you aren’t around to help. You also need to consider who you want to be the guardian of your children, should you and your significant other both pass away.
When you’re an empty-nester with adult children
This is a good time to review your estate plans and decide if they still fit your life. Maybe you need to make adjustments to your plans to account for one of your children who will need lifelong care due to their special needs. Alternatively, you might want your assets to be set aside to benefit your grandchildren instead of your children.
This is also a good time to think about asset protection plans, which can help you obtain the end-of-life care you need if a nursing home or assisted living facility is ever needed.
Whatever your stage of life, an East Brunswick estate planning attorney can help you examine your goals and get the right estate plans in place.