Any unexpected death is undoubtedly tragic and devastating for the friends and families who are left to cope with that sudden loss. Ideally, a person will have drafted a will or put together a comprehensive estate plan to direct people through this difficult time, but this doesn't always happen.
This is particularly true if a person was fairly young at the time of his or her death. Young adults often put off estate plans or assume they don't need a will, but the fact is that there can be some very real benefits to having a contingency plan should the worst happen. Before you decide that you are too young to do any estate planning, you might want to ask yourself some important questions.
- Are you okay with your parents (or spouse) making estate distribution, financial and care decisions for you? Often, these parties will automatically take on these responsibilities unless otherwise directed.
- Do you have assets you want to protect? This can include properties, investments and money. Without direction from you, executors of your estate and/or the courts will decide what to do with these assets.
- Do you have an opinion on life-saving efforts and other medical decisions? Without an advance medical directive, you may not be able to express your wishes due to mental or physical incapacity.
- Are you in a committed, but not legally defined, relationship? The probate process involves strict rules, and these rules generally refer only to relatives, legal spouses and children. Even if you are in a committed relationship, there is no guarantee that your partner will receive the benefits and/or assets you may have wanted that person to receive.
Once you take the time to consider these questions, you might find that you have more to protect than you expected.
While it may be uncomfortable or seem unnecessary, protecting your wishes and your assets with an estate plan can provide you and your loved ones with considerable peace of mind.