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Too Young for Estate Planning?

At what age should people start thinking about writing a will or making other estate plans?   In most states, the only legal requirement for will-making is that a person be 18 or older and “of sound mind.”  But as a practical matter, the need for a will and other estate plans starts to arise when a person assumes family responsibilities or accumulates personal wealth sufficient to warrant planning for its distribution. 

  • • Parents with minor children need wills to nominate the persons they would want to serve as guardians, should the children become orphans. Otherwise, a court might appoint a guardian who does not share the parents’ personal or religious values.

  • • Parents should consider establishing trusts in their wills to provide financial management and protection for minor children in the event both mother and father were to pass away.  Term life insurance is a frequent funding vehicle for trust arrangements.

  • • Individuals who are providing financial support for older relatives need to provide for the possibility – unlikely as it may seem – that they may die before their relatives.

  • • Everyone, regardless of age, needs to provide healthcare directives, such as a healthcare power of attorney, in the event they become disabled and cannot make decisions on medical treatment.

  • Many young people decide to get an early start on a life of “giving back” by including the causes they care about in their wills, living trusts or retirement plan beneficiary designations.


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