Securing Your Future: The Importance of Estate Planning for Every Stage of Life

According to Gallup News, a 2021 study found that 46% of U.S. adults have a will that describes how they would like their money and estate handled after their death.  

If you are 18 years or older, there are plenty of other qualifying events that may require your personal affairs to be in order. Though in today’s culture we have stigmatized only the elderly or wealthy needing to protect their assets, there are plenty of other reasons to consider estate planning on a small or large scale. 

Let’s first imagine that you have a blended family. You and your wife take a long overdue vacation and leave your three children at home with grandparents. You travel out of the country to a tropical resort and within a day receive a call. Your son was tackled during football practice and has broken his arm. Sadly his mother is deceased and there is no legal guardian or appointed medical power of attorney to guide your child into an emergency surgery. There is endless red tape and to expedite your son’s necessary surgery you must cut your vacation short and hope that you make it back in time. With a little pre-planning before your trip, temporary power of attorney could have been granted during your absence to account for such accidents. With more thoughtful planning there could be additional plans made for your other children too should something happen to them or you while traveling apart. 

Next, let’s consider single parent households. Can you imagine if a car accident resulted in your short or long-term incapacity? In this case, there are greater concerns than who can watch your children. How long can they stay with a relative? How will the relative pay for your children’s needs? What will ultimately happen to your children’s home if you cannot make payments while you are incapacitated? Estate planning documents can help legally, medically, and financially guide caregivers of children (under age 18) as a parent heals or in the event of their death. Envision it as a predetermined playbook on how you might like your minors to be protected as they continue to grow.      

If neither use case applies to you, perhaps envision that you are a young married adult without dependents. As we have seen in countless cases, like that of Terri Schiavo in the early 2000s, your parents and spouse may not always align on decisions. If you were unable to communicate your wishes from a sudden illness or injury, who would you want to make decisions on your behalf? Estate planning documents can honor more than your interests; it can preserve relationships. 

Planning for something new can be overwhelming; yet oftentimes the actual experience is pretty straightforward. Dr. Seuss summed it up best, “you’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” 

Before banding with the 54% of Americans who decide estate planning has no place in their life, we welcome you to visit Indiana Estate & Elder Law’s Learning Center on Wednesday, April 24, 10:30am. Attorney & Partner, Jennifer Rozelle will lead a casual chat on estate planning for families to best plan for the (un)expected and go forward with peace of mind. 

Sources: 

https://news.gallup.com/poll/351500/how-many-americans-have-will.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_case

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