What are your goals for 2019? We aren't talking about those well-meant New Year's Resolutions that soon fizzle out like fireworks in the midnight sky. Do you have a plan to achieve the goals you're prioritizing?
Even though our goals and the strategies to reach them will change throughout the years, we all know the importance of planning. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start. In that way, estate and incapacity planning are no different. While you're establishing your game-plan for the year, here are goals for your estate and incapacity planning as you age:
Goals in your 20s: Some of the most popular goals for twenty-somethings are exercising more, decreasing stress, and traveling. While you are getting ready for the fit and fabulous year ahead of you, remember to do a little responsible prep-work. Healthcare and financial powers of attorney (POAs) and healthcare directives are must-have documents for people in their twenties. Without these documents, your parents can't talk to your healthcare providers or handle your finances if you need them to. Taking this first step allows someone you trust to make decisions for you and outlines your healthcare preferences in the event that you can't make decisions yourself.
Goals in your 30s and 40s: In your thirties and forties, your goals and priorities are probably more long-term. You might become a homeowner, establish a career, get married, or start a family. Even if your only dependent is your pet, big changes in your life should prompt a review of your plan for the unexpected. You'll probably need to consider life insurance options, choose beneficiaries for your retirement savings, and update your POAs. Your next steps should involve having a will or trust prepared, choosing guardians if you have minor children, and appointing a representative to make sure any assets you have are handled according to your wishes. If you do have a spouse or minor children, this part of your plan can help avoid your state's default “estate plan” that may not be the best fit for you.
Goals in your 50s: In your fifties, you may be looking toward retirement and thinking about how to prepare for it. You might consult with a financial advisor who can help you determine if you need to make adjustments to reach your retirement goals. You may also want to learn about long term care insurance to find out if it's a good fit for you. At this point, you should re-evaluate your estate plan in light of any changes that may have occurred in your life. For example, if you have a blended family or have purchased out-of-state real property, you may want to include a trust in your estate plan. You should also make sure your incapacity plan has been updated and includes a financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, living will, and advanced heath care directive.
Goals from 60 and up: In your sixties and up, give or take a few years, you should be retiring and enjoying it. Your priorities might have come full circle and landed back where they were in your twenties. (Hello, stress-free travel and exercise!) Every once in a while, you'll probably want to sit down and take a break. Take that time to pull out all those estate planning documents you got in your fifties and review them with an elder law attorney. You should choose someone with experience guiding people through long-term care planning. The right kind of estate plan will work with your long-term care plan to help you stay at home longer and protect the things you've worked for. Planning early will offer the most protection, but don't let a lack of pre-planning deter you from planning now. You still have options even if you have put it off in the past.
These general guidelines can help you know where to start in your estate and incapacity plan, but everyone has different things that should be considered when planning. To learn more, attend our free workshop. We'll cover topics from basic documents to the nuances that come with long-term care planning and help you figure out the plan that may work best for you. To register, visit www.laddfirm.com/events or call 251-431-6014.