Wesley Chapel, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 29, 2016 - Estate planning attorney Shiobhan Olivero has a message for young families: It is never too early to implement a basic estate plan.
“It’s understandable that so many young parents put off estate planning,” Olivero said. “They have their whole lives ahead of them. But it’s better to plan ahead and recognize that life often brings the unexpected. Most young families don’t need anything fancy, but they should definitely put in place a few basic elements.”
First, Olivero says, young parents should have a will. If both parents die or become otherwise unable to raise their children, the court will appoint a guardian, usually a family member. This works out fine in most cases, but any preferences you may have as to which family member should be the guardian (or perhaps a close friend) will be unknown to the court without a will.
Likewise, while default laws of inheritance, called “intestacy laws,” are often adequate, a will allows greater control and flexibility. Parents should name an executor for their estate and consider establishing a trust and naming a trustee.
Next, parents should review their life insurance coverage. While this is more a financial matter than a legal one, it is a crucial aspect of an estate plan. An estate planning attorney can explain the different types of life insurance and help the client understand how much is necessary.
In case of serious illness or accident, parents should create durable powers of attorney for both health care and finances. This allows the named agent to make health care and financial decisions, as well as to access the assets, of an incapacitated person. A living will, also called an advance directive, allows an individual to legally establish their wishes for end-of-life care.
Finally, Olivero says that everyone, regardless of age or family status, should designate beneficiaries for their financial accounts. This allows the funds to go directly to the person or persons named, bypassing the potentially lengthy and expensive probate process.
“With these fairly simple steps, people can establish a basic estate plan that covers most contingencies and perhaps sleep a bit more soundly,” Olivero said.