Estate planning, in order to be effective, must be done in advance. Obviously, it’s too late to create a last will and testament and other estate planning documents once you’ve passed. Once this happens, you have no control over your property and other assets. Alabama state law will kick in, acting as a default will for those who don’t have one. Someone else appointed by the court will decide who gets your house, your money, your possessions, etc. based on state law. If you have young children, someone who may not even know your family will have to decide who will be the best guardian for them. All of the decisions that are made on your behalf may not be what you would have wanted for your family.
Typically, people start to think about estate planning once they go through major life events: getting married, buying a house, having children, etc. These are all good reasons to have an estate plan; however, you should be thinking about estate planning even in your 20s. A recent article in Fox Business explains why you’re never too young to start your estate plan.
It is important to start estate planning in your 20s for several reasons: you never know when you will pass, and tragedy can strike at any time. If you were involved in a car accident or other medical emergency tomorrow and fell into a coma, what do you want to happen to you?
An advance directive, also called a health care directive or living will, is an estate planning document communicating your decisions regarding medical treatment. In your advance directive, you can also appoint a health care proxy. This is the person that you would want to make medical decisions for you in the event that you couldn’t make them yourself.
Why do you need an advance directive? Without this document, your family and doctors will not be aware of your wishes. This may result in medical decisions being made by your doctors that go against what you would want. Your family will not legally be able to make decisions for you, even if you told them what to do in an earlier conversation. In the worst-case scenario, a legal battle could arise between your family members regarding your medical treatment. (This is what happened in the Terry Schiavo case, as she did not have a living will.)
Estate planning is important for everyone, no matter the age or amount of assets. Get started as soon as you can to protect yourself and your family.