While many people don’t think that they need an estate plan until they’re older, the truth is that you should start estate planning as young as 18. There are certain legal documents that protect you during your lifetime that you may benefit from, which is why it’s just as important for a younger person to start estate planning as it is for an older person.
After you turn 18, your parents or guardians no longer have control over your healthcare decisions or finances (in most circumstances). For that reason, you may want to consider putting together a health care directive that states what you’d like to have happen if you can’t make medical decisions for yourself in the future.
At that young age, you may also want a power of attorney. This will name who you want to have made medical or financial decisions for you, depending on the kind that you choose to use.
In your 30s, you need further estate planning documents in place
Usually, by the time you’re in your 30s, you’ll start having assets to protect. You may have a family, too, so you could want to set up your basic will, a trust and other documents, like guardianships, to protect yourself and those around you.
As you approach 40, you should have all of these documents in place, so you’re prepared as you get closer to retirement.
Finally, by the time you’re in your 70s, you should have a complete estate plan that has your wishes and your requests in place. At that time, it may have information on your long-term care plans or other important topics, so you’re ready to live your life but protected if you are incapacitated or pass away.
These are a few things to know about estate planning. While many people don’t start estate planning until they’re older, it’s reasonable and helpful to start when you’re younger. You can always update and change the estate plan you build as you age, so it’s there to protect you and your loved ones in the way you expect at that time.