When do I need a will?

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The simple answer is now.  A better question though, may be when do I need an estate plan?  The answer is the same: now.  Most people assume that a will or trust, or other estate planning tools, only become necessary in the later years of life.  When talking about estate planning–a topic that is often avoided–most people think of their parents, grandparents or someone else whose natural end of life is approaching.  Maybe you have even known someone who was prompted to get their “affairs in order” as a result of an unfavorable diagnosis.  However, the reality is that all of us should be planning now, because none of us are promised tomorrow.

As we process through the tragic events that we have seen recently in the news, we should consider that the people who were seriously injured or lost their lives in those situations never expected those days to play out like they did.  When tragedy strikes, the burdens and stresses that family members and loved ones experience can be significantly lessened by some prior estate planning.

Upon death, unexpected or otherwise, we will all have things that we leave behind.  As our families and careers grow we have spouses, children and assets to consider.  We work hard to take care of our loved ones and likely want the best for them.  Without an estate plan in place the court determines what will happen with the things you have left behind, instead of you.  For those with minor children, it is especially important to consider potential guardians.  For those who own property it is often recommended that a trust is created to hold that property and avoid the probate process.

The moment we enter in to adulthood we become the primary decision makers over our own lives.  This means if you are unable to make a decision regarding your healthcare as a result of an unexpected event, your family members and loved ones cannot legally step in to assist.  Your parents, spouse or children must be designated under an advanced healthcare directive and/or a power of attorney if you want to ensure that they are able to assist when needed most.

This is just a high level overview of some basic estate planning topics. Each person’s plan varies, based on a variety of factors. It is crucial to determine the best plan of action per individual and family. Let us help you through the process of planning and safeguarding yourself, your family and your future.  A little time and effort invested now will pay back dividends in your peace of mind, and ensure that those you leave behind are properly prepared.

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