Estate Planning for the Young?

Posted on August 24, 2011

Estate planning needs a new name.  When most people think of estate planning, words like elderly, wealthy, or death often come to mind.  It also conjures images of vast tracks of land surrounded by high fences and homes built in the image of Versailles, right?  Or is that just me?  However accurate the word associations that go with “estate planning” may be, one thing is certain: Everyone needs some form of estate planning, even the young, single, and broke.  Bet those words didn’t come to your mind though!

Living Plans for the Young

There are three essential documents that everyone needs, whether you have a family with children or are a single professional in the corporate fast lane.

Durable Power of Attorney

The first thing everyone needs is a durable power of attorney.  There are many varieties of the durable power of attorney.  The most popular variety goes into effect only when a doctor concludes and certifies that you are without capacity to make legally binding decisions. Without a durable power of attorney, your spouse, parents, siblings, live-in partner, or other loved ones would have to petition a court for the right to handle things for you.  That’s an additional hassle they won’t want or need if they’re faced with your incapacity.  All you need to do to set up a financial durable power of attorney is select a friend or family member that you trust to act as your “agent,” and contact our offices.  I can handle the rest for you!

Healthcare Proxy

Another document that everyone needs is a healthcare proxy.  Giving loved ones the authority to handle your financial affairs in case of incapacity isn’t enough.  Someone needs to be in charge of making medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are severely incapacitated.  Leaving the burden of tough decisions to a group is unfair.  Moreover, you need to designate one person who is capable, willing, and emotionally strong enough to carry out your wishes and look out for your best interests.

Living Will

A living will is a medical directive.  It spells out what types of medical treatment you want or don’t want in the event that you are incapacitated and suffer from a terminal illness or are in a persistent vegetative state.  In either of those cases, it’s only fair that your wishes be followed, but that can only happen if you’ve expressed your wishes and desires before becoming ill.

Although it is a contentious issue around the country, it is much more likely that your wishes will be followed if you have spelled them out in advance.  It’s also important to share your wishes with your healthcare proxy and your physician.  That way everyone is on the same page.

In California, it’s common for a healthcare proxy and living will to be combined into one document: an advanced medical directive or medical power of attorney.

Professional Advice

Life planning is not something that you want to tackle alone.  There is simply too much at stake, especially when professionals like us are available to help you create and implement a plan that is appropriate for your situation, whether you need only the documents listed above or a full blown estate plan with a will and revocable living trust.

Normally, a Family Wealth Planning consultation costs $750, but I am giving two consultations away for free right now!  The first two people to call my office, mention this blog post, and schedule an appointment will get to meet with me at no charge.  Don’t wait, because when these slots fill up fast, normal pricing will resume.

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