Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Nearly half of all Americans have yet to start estate planning. For most, the seemingly reasonable explanation is that they are either too young or too poor to start estate planning. This may lead you to wonder, “What is the magic number? When should I start an estate plan?”
Though there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question, it is safe to say that the “sooner the better” applies to everyone. Tomorrow is never promised. If you have something you treasure and treasure someone to give it to, creating a Will or trust should be a top priority.
You Are Not Too Young to Start Estate Planning
Few people in their early 20s are thinking about estate planning – but they should be. If your explanation for not having a plan in place yet is that you are too young to start, think again. You are never too young to benefit from the creation of a basic plan. Furthermore, as much as we dislike thinking about it, there are many causes of death besides old age.
A comprehensive estate plan should do much more than simply decide who will receive your estate assets when you die. Incapacity planning, for example, should be a critical part of any estate plan. This is because incapacity can occur to anyone at any time. Have you asked yourself who would control your assets if you became incapacitated? Furthermore, who will make your healthcare decisions? Empower yourself and have a say in these important matters by creating an incapacity plan. You can add on to your estate plan as you aquire more assets through the years. The bottom line is that you are never too young to get started.
You Are Not Too Poor to Start Estate Planning
What about wealth? Oftentimes, people feel deterred by the word “estate.” It makes them feel like estate planning is only for the rich. This is simply not the case. Unless you are unemployed and homeless, you own assets. You may not have made your own personal fortune (yet), but you have assets that make up your estate. Obviously, you are going to live forever, but what if you don’t? What if you were to get into a car wreck tomorrow or become terminally ill? Something has to be done with your estate assets and you have the right to have a say in the matter.
You have worked hard for what you have and you should care how it should be handled after your death or incapacity. Maybe you want your little sister to have the savings you have managed to sock away in the bank. Perhaps you have a favorite nephew to whom you promised your baseball card collection someday! Just because a gift doesn’t have significant monetary value doesn’t mean that the sentimental value isn’t priceless. If you die without an estate plan in place though, those gifts might never happen.
When you die intestate (without a Last Will and Testament in place) the State of Texas decides who gets your estate assets and in what proportions. For instance, your little sister might inherit but it likely won’t be your entire savings, as you intended. Your nephew would probably be left out entirely and specific gifts (such as a baseball card collection) aren’t even contemplated under the laws of intestate succession. If it matters to you who winds up with the assets you have managed to accumulate, you need at least a basic estate plan in place.
A Note to Parents – You Have a Priceless Estate Asset to Protect
Finally, if you are a parent, you have the strongest reason of all to start estate planning – your child. Maybe all you have right now are a few sentimental family heirlooms and the proceeds of a life insurance policy. That is reason enough to create an estate plan! Did you know that your minor child cannot inherit directly from you? You must make plans, usually in the form of a trust, for the proceeds of your policy as well as your family heirlooms to be managed and protected while your child is a minor. Thus, your child is all the reason you need to get started on your estate planning!
For more information, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.