Estate Planning for Different Ages and Stages of Life

By: Nick Leydorf
An estate plan works like the operating system on your phone or computer. It runs in the background. However, it needs occasional updates to keep the plan current.

Estate planning is a critical means of protecting your financial legacy, providing for loved ones, reducing taxes and preventing unnecessary expenses, says a recent article from The Seattle Times, “Estate planning needs vary at every stage of your life.” The reasons for an estate plan change depending on your stage of life. However, no matter what your income is, you need an estate plan.

There are certain events during life known as “trigger points” sparking reminders to either create an estate plan or update an existing one.

Welcoming a new member of the family. Estate planning often starts when a child is welcomed into the family, or when someone marries. An estate planning attorney can provide you with options based on your specific situation, so your will reflects your wishes and the laws of your state. An estate planning attorney will also guide you through other parts of the plan.

Once you have an estate plan in place, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you and your loved ones are protected with a legal safety net.

Midlife challenges. The sandwich generation, typically people in their 40s and 50s, are busy raising children and helping parents as they age. Having a power of attorney for financial and medical matters is important for an adult child who is involved in their parent’s healthcare, if the child needs to be able to speak with physicians. Parents also need health care directives addressing end-of-life care, so loved ones know what their wishes are.

Parents will do their children a favor by telling them what they want and back up their wishes with the appropriate legal documents. This spares the children from having to figure out “what mom wanted” or fighting over “what dad really meant.”

Before and after retirement. The years just before and just after retirement are often when health issues crop up. Retirement is the right time to review estate planning documents and review named beneficiaries. The people you named ten, or even five, years ago to handle your estate may no longer be in your life. You may have new grandchildren you want to provide for. All of these matters need to be reviewed with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure they reflect your wishes right now.

Updating an estate plan throughout the ups and downs of life ensures you’ll be able to enjoy the retirement you worked for and focus your attention on the present.

Reference: The Seattle Times (Oct. 17, 2022) “Estate planning needs vary at every stage of your life”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Attorney, Sandwich Generation, Power of Attorney, Will, Health Care Directives, Retirement, Midlife, Trigger Points

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