Monday, July 30, 2012

Estate Planning -- It's Not Just For Seniors

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And the conversation went like this:

My In-law:  "That was a nice party you had over the weekend, you must have had some clients there.  I saw several retirement age women chatting at the dinning room table."  

Me:  "Thanks, we had a nice number of people attend, and yes, several guests were also clients of mine.  But they all were married couples with young children.  I think the women you noticed were friends through the UU church.  Why did you think they were clients?"

My In-law:  "Well, that is the age people do those papers, right?"

And there is myth number one about estate planning -- it is for those in the later years.  Wrong, oh so wrong.  A large portion of my clients are 40 or younger.  The motivation for an estate plan is rooted in their new role as parent.  You see, the only legal way to nominate a guardian for your child is in a will.  For parents who know this, the desire it strong to take charge and put things in order should the dreaded occur.  What is worse for a young child loosing both parents?  A custody dispute erupting in the wake of their untimely death.

But my clients' ages push even lower sometimes.  This week I have a young women, and I mean young, coming in to set up papers.  She is 21.  And about to embark on a yearlong volunteer project.  Before leaving she will put powers of attorney in place, one for finance and one for health.  We'll also create a basic will.  Most likely these papers will never be used.  But, should an accident occur, there will be no scrambling to establish guardianship by her parents.  Once she hit age 18, she became an adult.  Automatic ability for parents to do anything ceased.  Keep this in mind as you send kids off to college or first jobs.  And remember, estate plans are not just for those receiving mailings from AARP.

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