When should I start estate planning?

For young adults in Lake Charles, creating an estate plan can seem more than necessary. After all, what could a person with few assets and no dependents have to protect? As it turns out, quite a lot. Estate planning in early adulthood is essential for virtually everyone, even those who are young and healthy.

Although it is likely true that young adults do not spend much time thinking about their own deaths, that does not change the fact that passing on is an aspect of life that everyone must prepare for. Sure, most adults feel like they are in the prime of their lives, but an unexpected accident or illness could suddenly change all of that. A comprehensive estate plan addresses what will happen in a range of circumstances.

For example, if a person is hurt in accident, incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions on his or her own, who does? Adults who only recently broke into their 20s often wrongly assume that their parents can make those decisions, but there is no guarantee that they will have the legal right to do so. Establishing a living will that outlines what medical treatments a person is comfortable with and an accompanying health care proxy enables someone the person trusts to make those decisions on his or her behalf.

Young adults also need a basic will. This is a written document that outlines a person's wishes and gives instructions about how he or she would like his or her assets handled after death. Assets are not always so-called big items or those that are worth lots of money. Wills often handle much smaller assets -- such as a vehicle or electronics -- or those with no financial value but with emotional significance.

By creating a basic estate plan when young, most Lake Charles residents can establish a strong foundation for future estate planning needs. These documents are not written in stone, so people can update them annually to reflect new assets, dependents or other life changes. Ultimately, these plans can help even young adults ensure that their final wishes are respected to the fullest.

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