For most people, estate planning is something that is done later on in life. That's because many young adults in Florida and elsewhere decide that they will worry about estate planning when they have more assets and wealth. Others don't think they need an estate plan because they are young and healthy.
However, in reality, estate planning is very important at all stages of life. While we would all like to live to be old and gray, tragedies do happen. We can probably all think of someone we know who died unexpectedly at a young age, leaving behind a family. That's why it's important to have a plan in place at every age.
At the very least, an estate plan for a young family should address the following matters:
Name a guardian for any minor children. Who would take care of the children if both parents were involved in a fatal accident? As horrible as this is to think about, it's very important to decide ahead of time so that the transition can be as smooth as possible for the children. Otherwise, the court decides without knowing the wishes of the parents.
Name an executor or trustee for the estate. This should be someone who the family trusts and is also very willing and able to handle all of the final financial affairs. This person would be charged with locating and valuing assets, locating and paying bills, distributing assets and hiring an attorney, if necessary.
State how assets should be distributed. When a couple is married, assets are usually transferred to the surviving spouse. However, if both spouses die, instruction should be provided on how the assets should be distributed. Will they be used to care for their children? Will they go to the spouses' parents? An estate plan ensures that the assets are distributed exactly how the couple wishes.
Plan for disability or incapacity. This is another issue that is difficult for a young and healthy couple to think about, but it is very important. Disability insurance should be discussed in case a spouse becomes disabled and can no longer work. Both spouses should also name medical powers of attorney, or people who have the authority to make health care decisions for them if they are unable to do so.
For more information, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
Source: LifeHealthPro, "Estate planning for young families," Jonathan A. Mintz, Nov. 29, 2012