Young adults in Louisiana often operate under the misconception that planning an estate is only useful to individuals who either possess great wealth or are reaching an advanced age. The truth is that planning an estate is an act of prudence for people of all ages and levels of wealth.
Much of the misunderstanding stems from the fact that people often believe an estate plan deals only with the division of the assets left behind by a deceased person. The process also allows a person to take care of their future and provide for the people they love.
Young people in their 20s and 30s often experience some of the most significant changes in their lives. This might include graduating from college, getting married and having children. While these moments work to add fullness and a sense of purpose to life, they also make it clear why planning an estate is important for people in these age groups.
There are a few essential documents with which estate planners should familiarize themselves before beginning the process. These include the following:
• Durable power of attorney – This document allows the planner to identify a family member or other trusted person who will make decisions for the planner if he or she becomes incapacitated or is unable to make decisions for another reason.
• Living will – A living will deals with the acceptable forms of medical care for an individual who becomes incapacitated. These documents often deal with the use of artificial nutrition, ventilators and resuscitation.
• Health care proxy – This document is similar to a living will except that it appoints another person to make medical decisions when the planner is unable to do so.
• Will – A traditional will provides instructions for the division of assets left to others by the planner.
• Revocable trusts – This estate planning tool allows the planner to provide instructions for the handling of his or her assets. The creator of a revocable trust can alter the document as they see fit and use the trust to manage and protect the assets they possess.
The estate planning process allows an individual to protect the assets that are most valuable to them while providing for the future of the people they love the most. Individuals interested in planning their estate may find it is easier to do so with the help of an attorney.