Many young adults in upstate New York put estate planning on the back burner. They typically regard wills and trusts as unnecessary and something to address when they are middle-aged. Few of them realize that death or incapacitation can happen in the blink of an eye, at any age. Being young does not make them invincible. When they start earning money, estate planning is as much of a responsibility as budgeting, balancing bank statements and getting insurance.
However, in their early 20s, young adults might have many questions about estate planning, how it works and their options. Even if they live healthy lives until they reach old age, having a plan will provide peace of mind. The first and most crucial step is to draft a will. That expresses how the person wants his or her assets distributed to beneficiaries. Also, who will manage the testator’s financial interests after death and be the guardian of minor children?
Trusts are optional, and they give the testator more control of assets even after death. For instance, funding for a child’s studies can be put in a trust, with instructions for how and when the child may get the money. Funds placed in a trust are safe from creditors because they belong to the trust and not the testator or the beneficiary. Another critical step is to appoint powers of attorney. That involves designating someone to manage the testator’s finances in the event of incapacitation or death, and someone to make decisions about health care on behalf of the testator.
An experienced New York estate planning attorney can answer questions, explain options and, most importantly, provide the necessary support and guidance when drafting wills and establishing trusts. Legal counsel can also explain the need for a living will, which is a statement to direct the powers of attorney to manage financial, legal and health care choices, such as those involving artificial life support. Occasional reviews will be required to make sure the will, trusts and other documents remain current.