When Should You Start Thinking About Estate Planning?

May 18, 2015

Estate planning is not a topic that causally pops up in our daily conversations. In fact, it is a bit unsettling to plan beyond your own lifespan. Nonetheless, every adult needs an effective estate plan, and as a Maryland estate planning attorney, DK Rus Law has helped many Maryland residents put one in place. If you think estate planning is only for old or wealthy individuals, you are mistaken. Your estate plan is your chance to express your final wishes, and to make sure that your family is protected. You can accomplish this at any time in your adult life, but it’s important not to delay estate planning until it’s too late!

young couple thinking about estate planning

What Goes Into Estate Planning

A typical approach to estate planning will address the following matters:

  • What will happen to your assets after you die?
  • Who will handle your affairs and medical decisions if you become incapacitated?
  • Who do you trust to oversee distribution of your estate according to your wishes?
  • Who will take care of your minor children?
  • What sort of support will your spouse and children receive?
  • How will you make the probate of your estate easier for everyone?
  • How will you minimize or eliminate estate and inheritance taxes?

Estate planning is more than just writing a Will. There are many considerations, especially when it comes to estate taxes and probate costs, that should be taken into account. The assistance of an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney is invaluable in these situations and can save you and your family from costly mistakes.

Estate Planning is Not Only for the Old or Rich

Movies and TV shows often portray a dramatic “reading of the Will” when an elderly rich person dies, usually in an elegant library. The truth is much less theatrical. Having your estate planned is usually a relatively straightforward process that involves seeing an experienced estate planning attorney, finding out your goals, and crafting a plan that works for your situation. Of course, this process doesn’t make for great TV or movie drama!

Most importantly, that rich old uncle probably had his first estate plan done when he was young and not-so-rich. Unfortunately, disease and accidents can happen at any age. If you are not prepared and don’t have an updated estate plan, you have lost the chance to decide what happens to your family and your assets after you die. As long as you have assets and people you want to protect, you are not too young to plan your estate.

In fact, if you’ve experienced any of the following life events, you probably should have your own estate plan by now:

  • You got married
  • You purchased a home
  • You have children or step-children
  • You have won or inherited significant assets

Also remember that the Will you create at 26 is not necessarily the Will you should have at 46 or 66. As your life changes, so may your estate plan. If you have not reviewed your plan in over 5 years, you should look at it now to make sure it still suits your circumstances. If it doesn’t, or if you are not sure, make an appointment with your estate planning attorney to go over it. Most attorneys will review your current Will for free.

What if I Don’t Have Any Assets?

It takes time—for some people longer than others—to accumulate the kind of assets you would worry about leaving. But even if you don’t have anything valuable to leave to your loved ones, you may have other wishes to consider. For example, if you are incapacitated as a result of a car accident or stroke, who do you wish to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf? Or maybe you wish to leave instructions for special funeral arrangements that fit with your religious or personal beliefs? Whatever it is, you can start small and then grow your plan as your assets and responsibilities grow.

If you have questions or need help during the estate planning process, feel free to contact DK Rus Law for professional legal advice.

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