The many stages of an estate plan

As a young person, perhaps just out of college and taking your first steps toward a satisfying career, you probably have a lot of goals for your future. Maybe you hope to marry, raise a family, start your own business and retire comfortably. If you are a careful planner, leaving little to chance, you may already have a path in mind for how to achieve some of those goals.

One thing that may not be on your horizon is your estate plan. After all, making a will is for your grandparents, and you have a lot of life ahead of you. However, all of those goals you have set and will work hard to achieve deserve some protection, as well as the people you hope to bring into your life. Estate planning is something that can protect you now and grow and change as you do.

Moving with you through life

Just as you move through stages of life, so can your estate plan. You will modify and adjust your financial plans throughout your life, and you can do the same with your estate plan. However, why would you need an estate plan now if you are still young, single and healthy? Some very important factors make it critical to create an estate plan at your stage in life, for example:

  • Since your parents are no longer legally able to speak for you, your estate plan can designate a health care proxy to make medical decisions if you ever suffer an illness or injury and are unable to communicate.
  • An estate plan can also name a durable power of attorney so that someone you trust can manage your investments, pay your bills and handle other financial matters if you are incapacitated.
  • Your will can include a HIPAA release so that doctors can share your confidential medical information with your loved ones to help them make important decisions.
  • Because you do not have a spouse or children, you may have others to whom you would prefer to leave your assets instead of having the Louisiana courts decide this for you in the event of your untimely death.

Once you become engaged, marry, have children or even divorce, you can return frequently to your estate plan and make any adjustments necessary, such as changing your POA designations and beneficiaries, creating trusts and naming guardians for your children. As you age, you may wish to establish a plan for the succession of your business or add a charitable trust for a worthy cause. You will eventually want to include your wishes and arrangements for after you pass away.

An estate plan can be a flexible and powerful gift to your loved ones, even if those loved ones are still a distant dream. Based on your unique circumstances, there may be other estate planning instruments that would benefit you right now, and a legal professional can answer your questions.

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