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estate planning for each decade of life

Estate Planning: What to Focus on During Each Decade of Your Life

Among the many other things, the past twelve months have taught us that every adult, regardless of age or well-being, needs an estate plan. Of course, this has always been true and yet the uncertainty provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic has made it incontrovertible. When everyone’s health is at risk, it becomes clear that everyone needs a plan which protects them and their loved ones from the unthinkable. 

Estate Planning Decade-By-Decade

1. Upon Reaching Age of Majority

As soon as you turn 18 (or 19 in some states), your parents or guardians lose the ability to intervene on your behalf in medical and financial matters. Accordingly, having a healthcare directive and durable financial power of attorney is crucial. Together, these documents ensure that should anything happen to you, your loved ones will be able to ensure you are properly cared for and your financial matters are covered. 

2. Your Late Twenties and Early Thirties

At this stage of life, many people may commit to a partner, buy a home, and start a family. Each of these steps brings new responsibility and with it, the need for a will. As you gain assets, you want to ensure they are protected and end up with the right people should you pass unexpectedly. If you marry, you will want to update your will to include your spouse; likewise, you will want to revise your healthcare directive and durable power of attorney so that your spouse is named instead of your parents. 

With children comes the need for another update to your will. You now need to make guardianship designations and economic arrangements to ensure your children are cared for should something happen to you. In many cases, this means setting up a revocable living trust through which you can pass on your assets while maintaining control of how and when they are received.    

3. Into Your Forties 

If by this age you may have a comprehensive estate plan in place, so if that’s the case, pat yourself on the back. You are ahead of most of your peers and maybe even your parents, too. According to a recent survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults have any sort of estate planning documents. Not only do you want to ensure your parents are not among this majority and do have an estate plan, but you also want to make sure you have talked to them about their end-of-life wishes and goals as well as how they plan to pay for any care they may need.

4. As You Near Retirement

It is important to keep your estate plan up-to-date throughout your life but there is perhaps no time more crucial than when you reach mature adulthood. At this stage, many people have not only raised children but have seen their children marry and, perhaps, even have kids of their own. All of these moving parts mean plenty of opportunity for change; divorces happen and so do new marriages; babies are born and lives are cut short. You want to be sure you plan accounts for all of these events. 

Mature adulthood is also the time when your retirement goals gain focus and momentum. Not only does this mean reviewing your investment strategy and financial plan, but instituting a long-term care plan, too. 

5. Your Golden Years

If you have not done so already, this is the time to talk to your loved ones about who will administer your estate and how you plan to distribute your assets. You also want to ensure those named in your healthcare directive and durable financial power of attorney understand your goals and wishes and are prepared to carry out the responsibility of their roles. Lastly, it is crucial that you have a long-term care plan as you reach your golden years. If you don’t, don’t worry but do not delay any longer. 

Every adult needs an estate plan, and it is never too early to get started. If you are ready to begin the process, do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or reaching out to us via the contact form on our website.


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