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Today's Family Magazine

Estate planning for young families

Mar 28, 2017 11:03AM ● By Today's Family
When it comes to estate planning, young people tend to procrastinate.  This is often because when we are young and relatively healthy, we do not actively reflect upon our own mortality.  We always want to believe that we have (more) time.  Similarly, when we are younger and have fewer assets, we may not believe estate planning to be important.  These potentially mistaken beliefs can have devastating consequences for families.  Whether you have significant or modest assets, basic estate planning is generally affordable and always worthwhile.

Young married couples, and parents of minor children – whether single or married – should have an estate plan.  Basic estate planning brings peace of mind for you and your loved ones.  Your estate plan is not only about what happens to your property, it is also about what happens to your family in the event something happens to you.

Life is a gift, and unforeseen accidents happen every day.  While we cannot control the occurrence of a tragedy, we can control what follows through careful planning.  There is no reason to delay: you can always begin with the essential legal documents and update your plan later.  A basic estate plan through Kurt Law Office will typically consist of a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a living will.

A Last Will and Testament controls the distribution of your property upon your death.  Most young married couples want all of their assets to go to their surviving spouse.  If both die, many want their assets to be used for the benefit of any minor children.  Here, you can also designate a guardian who will assume responsibility for raising the children if both parents die.  Choosing a guardian can be a difficult decision, but, without naming one, the court would appoint one.

A Durable Power of Attorney names an agent to make financial and legal decisions for you – even after you become incapacitated or incompetent.  Without this, important financial decisions may not be made and bills may not get paid.  A durable power of attorney can be narrow or broad, and can be revised or revoked at any time so long as you are competent at the time you wish to revise or revoke.  If you do not have a durable power of attorney, somebody would have to apply to the court to become your legal guardian.

A Health Care Power of Attorney gives another person legal authority to make medical decisions for you when you cannot.  They must act in accordance with your wishes, if known.  Many name their spouse, but alternates should be named in case your spouse also is unable to act.

A Living Will is a document detailing the types of medical treatment you want (or do not want) to receive.  It does not appoint anyone to make your health care decisions, but it can ensure that health care providers honor your wishes regarding care.

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