Is It Too Early — or Too Late — for Estate Planning?
You can — and perhaps should — think about estate planning as soon as you become a legal adult. However, if you’ve reached retirement without creating a will or safeguarding your assets with a trust, it’s certainly not too late to engage in these important activities.
At What Age Do People Create Wills?
The senior living digital publisher Caring.com conducts a will and estate planning survey annually. You likely won’t be surprised to learn that from 2020 through 2023, the age group who was most likely to have a will was the 55 and up crowd.
However, that doesn’t mean that younger people don’t have wills. For 2023, 46 percent of respondents aged 55 and over said they had a will. Around 27 percent of respondents aged 35 to 54 said they have a will. Surprisingly, 26 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 also said they had wills.
This data tells us that while many people wait until they’re close to or entering retirement to handle certain estate planning tasks, more than a quarter of people of all ages also take the time to complete some estate planning.
Why Do So Many People Put Off Estate Planning?
People put off estate planning for a variety of reasons. Younger individuals without many assets may not think they need to estate plan because they associate the activity with passing on property to others. Some people don’t create wills and trusts or otherwise engage in estate planning because they find it morbid or frightening to think about the future in this manner.
The truth, however, is that there are estate planning tools that can be beneficial for people of all ages. Estate planning is also not morbid or scary — in fact, the peace of mind that you may get after addressing some of the concerns related to estate planning can actually help reduce your fears about the future.
What Types of Estate Planning Might be Important at Various Ages
Your financial needs and status obviously change through the years, so the types of estate planning that might be beneficial to you will change as well. Here’s a quick run-down of some common estate considerations people might have at various ages.
People in Their 20s
The average person in their 20s is still in college or just launching a career. They may not have children yet or not have many assets they want to safeguard. Primary estate planning concerns at this age may be to protect themselves and their interests in case of an emergency.
This might mean having medical and financial powers of attorney that make personal wishes known and appoint someone to carry them out on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
People in Their 30s
Many people in their 30s have grown their careers and/or started families. They may own assets, such as homes and cars, have savings and retirement funds started, and have children. These are all reasons to consider wills and trusts to protect those assets, create a process for passing assets on to others, and name guardians for any children.
People in Their 40s
The same estate planning that is relevant for 30-somethings is also important in your 40s. You may also want to start thinking about long-term care plans and ensure you update any older estate plans with new beneficiary information or preferences.
People in Their 50s
During this decade, people often concentrate on shoring up retirement planning. You may want to explore trusts as a way to safeguard assets during retirement and begin to think about long-term care planning.
People in Their 60s or Older
During retirement, you should review your estate plan at least once a year and make any necessary changes to wills or other documents. This way you can ensure that your current wishes are made known. You may also want to consider power of attorney forms to ensure someone you trust, such as an adult child, can assist with your finances or make medical decisions on your behalf if necessary.
Why Age Isn’t the Most Important Factor
The above summary is simply an overall guide to some common concerns people might have at various ages. It’s important to remember that age is not the most important factor in when and how you plan for your estate. You should consider your personal needs, financial and familial status, and preferences.
For example, someone can be 23 and have children or 28 and be a successful business owner with many assets. In these cases, trusts, wills, and other estate planning options may be important to consider.
Consult an Estate Planning Attorney
While it’s never too early or too late to begin estate planning, how you approach this endeavor should align with your current situation and goals for the future. Talking with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand whether you should start the process now and what you should include in your estate plan.
Whether you’re just getting started and want to talk about wills and healthcare directives or you are ready to protect your assets with a trust, we can help. Contact Crow Estate Planning & Probate at 931-213-7940 to schedule an appointment today.