Series Part 1: When Should You Create an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on August 11, 2011

Welcome to our 2-part series on “When Should You Begin Thinking About Creating an Estate Plan?” Right away, I can tell you the answer to this question is relatively easy. You should create an estate plan when:

Something Significant Changes in Your Life

This might sound intuitive, but if you’re like most people, you’re so busy with your everyday life it’s hard to stop and think about planning for the future. A significant, life changing event can include:

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • Remarrying
  • Getting ill
  • Acquiring an asset

If something in your life changes, then you need to take a moment to reflect. Where do you want the asset to go? How will this change your life? And of course, how do you want your affairs resolved in the event something happens to you?

Consider these two scenarios:

  1. Buying a house: if the house is solely in your name and you have no children, it goes to your parents. But what if your parents aren’t capable of taking care of it? Maybe they’re in a nursing home and maintaining a house will be a burden. Then that’s something you need to think about and plan for.
  2. Getting married: getting married means that you’re adding someone into your life. Make sure both parties understand where your assets are. And, that you understand the legalities behind it. For example, joint tenants have everything in joint accounts. But, if you don’t want the debt from one party to impact another, then you might not have joint accounts for everything. If something happens to the other person—like your spouse dies or becomes incapacitated—then the other party doesn’t have immediate access to resources. In this case, a power of attorney (POA) would be an invaluable legal document to have.

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

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