When to do an estate plan.

 You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. And when it comes to estate planning, there is no better time to begin planning than now. 

If you are like most adults, estate planning may be low on your priority list. It is something that does not feel urgent. You don’t need one right now so why should you spend time, money, and energy creating one? After all, no one likes thinking about aging, incapacitation, and death. It is only natural to put estate planning to the back of your mind. 

Unfortunately, we do not know when we will need an estate plan. It could be 20 years from now. It could be 50 years. Or it could be tomorrow. Without an estate plan in place, your estate will be distributed by the state. Your loved ones may find themselves embroiled in disagreements about your long-term care. In addition, you could find yourself in long-term care with dwindling savings. 

Creating an estate plan is the only way to avoid these unpleasant outcomes. 

If you have questions about estate planning, then you are in the right place. At Appelgate & Dillman Elder Law, we work with clients of all ages and in all stages of life to develop estate plans that meet their current and future needs. In this blog post, we will discuss why the best time to create your estate plan is today. 

Do You Really Need An Estate Plan Now?

Think that estate planning is only for those with significant assets? Think again. Regardless of your financial situation, there are many benefits to developing a comprehensive estate plan. Yes, an estate plan will ensure that your property is distributed to your heirs according to your wishes, but an estate plan can accomplish so much more. 

Beyond estate administration, you can name a power of attorney to make financial and health decisions for you should you become sick or incapacitated. You can also establish trusts that will help you pay for long-term care and preserve your life savings for future generations. 

Now – while you are of sound mind and body – is the best time to make those decisions. Still not convinced? Here are just several life transitions that should prompt you to consider creating (or updating) your estate plan. 

When To Create (Or Update) Your Estate Plan

  • Property Ownership – As soon as you acquire real property, you should create a will to designate where this asset will go when you pass away. Not only will the property be distributed according to your wishes, but your estate plan will relieve loved ones from the burden of and costs of the probate process.
  • Creating A Bank Account – Do you have cash in a bank account? Investments in stocks and bonds? Precious metals such as gold and silver? Consider how these assets will be distributed and who will receive them when you pass. And if you create a new account, be sure to update your estate plan accordingly to ensure that your funds are passed to a loved one or chosen cause.
  • Marriage – Have you recently tied the knot? Or, are you going through divorce? Whether you are newly married or newly divorced, now is a great time to create an estate plan that reflects your new family dynamics.
  • Birth of a child – Whether it is your first, second, or third child, you should consider updating your estate plan as soon as they are born. Estate planning during this stage helps you to designate a guardian for your child and can provide financial security in the event of your death.
  • Extensive Travel – If you plan to embark on a long trip, updating your estate plan before leaving is recommended. It is also important to consider having an estate plan, particularly if you are out of the country frequently and for longer durations.
  • Inheritance Acquisition – Were you the beneficiary of another’s estate? If so, you may want to reflect any new real or personal property you have acquired in your own estate plan.
  • Retirement – Just like planning for retirement, you should plan for the distribution of your estate – before it is too late. Upon retirement, your financial situation may change significantly. You may purchase or sell property, tap into savings accounts, liquidate investments, and make other life changes that warrant a new or updated estate plan.

You don’t need an excuse to begin estate planning, but major life transitions are a good time to reflect and prepare for the future. 

Do You Have A Plan For Long-Term Care?

When you hear the words “estate plan”, what comes to mind? For many individuals, they believe that an estate plan is limited to wills and trusts – documents that are only used when they pass. 

This is not true. In fact, an estate plan can help you avoid the headaches and heartaches associated with aging. With well-drafted estate planning documents, you can appoint a power of attorney to help you make decisions about your health and finances in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. Moreover, you can create a trust that will protect and preserve your property for future generations. 

An often overlooked aspect of estate planning is planning for long-term care and nursing home care. Many individuals are unaware of how expensive long-term care can be. It is only when they are faced with a health crisis and need long-term care that the importance of planning becomes clear. 

Long-term care and nursing home care can completely deplete your life savings, leaving heirs with little to no inheritance at all. With proper planning, you can avoid this outcome and preserve your assets. 

At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law, not only do we help our clients create wills and trusts, we also offer Life Care Planning. With Life Care Planning, we help clients face major life transitions, health challenges, and shifting family dynamics to ensure their estate plan is up to date and accurately reflects their wishes. Perhaps more importantly, we help clients prepare for long-term care and nursing home care, protecting them and their families from financial hardship. 

Ready To Take The First Step?

Now that you understand the importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs and clearly expresses your final wishes, it’s time to take action. 

But where do you start? Should you fill out a free online form? Write a handwritten will? Tell a loved one how you want your estate to be distributed? While you are free to do any and all of the above, a solid first step is to meet with an attorney. At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law, we are here to help. Contact us online or call us at (317) 492-9569. We will discuss your current situation and help you develop a plan that meets your needs and the needs of your family.