Most adults have an estate plan. When you have children, assets, property, anyone will tell you need to get an estate plan. Many young professionals, however, are never advised to consult with an attorney about their estate, or lack thereof.
I've spent the last couple weeks asking some of my young professional friends if they (a) have an estate plan, and if not (which was the case with most) (b) why not? The most common answer was, “I don't have anything.” Well, I have to disagree.
Estate planning is more than just who gets your ipod if some unfortunate accident were to happen. An estate plan is your opportunity to create documentation to speak for you when you, for whatever reason, cannot speak for yourself.
- If you were incapable of making medical decisions for yourself, who would make those decisions? In most cases, it would be your parents. Do they know the care you would or would not want to receive? In this situation, the last thing I would want is for my parents to be forced to make these almost impossible decisions without any direction from me. A medical directive can provide your parents, or whoever the decision maker may be, with detailed instructions if you become incapacitated, so that they will not be forced to live with those decisions themselves.
- Who will care for your pet? I don't know about you, but my Sammie is spoiled rotten. I take comfort in knowing that if I, for any reason, cannot care for him, I have a guardian in place, as well as an alternate, and a financial cushion to ensure he remains just as spoiled in my absence.
- What will happen to your savings? Whether you have $5,000 or $50,000 sitting in the bank, that is your hard-earned money and you deserve some say in who will inherit from you. Maybe you have a favorite charity? Maybe you want the funds divided among friends or colleagues?Maybe you have nieces or nephews that could use some motivation to pursue higher education? Whatever the result, it should be your decision.
I know that thinking about the possible scenario that you will not be here tomorrow is the last thing you want to do today. But as the saying goes, “enjoy each day as if it were your last,” and make sure your afterlife wishes are in writing. It is a lot easier to plan for these things before you NEED to plan these things and it would take a major burden off your family and friends if your wishes are clearly described in a valid legal document.