By Lauren Mechaly
Thirty. The big 3-0. In 2012, I will enter my thirties. It is an exciting thought. What have I accomplished? What will I accomplish? How do I get where I want to be in life? There are many pieces of the puzzle that somehow have to fit together.
My friends are entering this stage of their lives in different positions. Some have babies, others have not started thinking about babies. Some have their own businesses, others have student loans. Sound familiar? Maybe you are single, engaged, or married. Maybe you own, maybe you rent, maybe you still live with your parents. Maybe you are first starting graduate school, or maybe you are starting a new career.
But we all have one thing in common – we are turning thirty. And we all have one common question – do I need to start planning now? The answer, of course, is yes. The real question is, how?
Many young adults think of “life and estate planning” as something their parents, maybe even their grandparents, are doing. There is a common misconception of what life and estate planning means and why it is important at all stages in life.
There are various estate planning documents to consider, but a few core documents will provide the protection you need right now. A Last Will and Testament controls the disposition of property in your name alone at the time of your death. Any assets held jointly, in trust for others, or with a designated beneficiary, will pass directly to those individuals.
It is important to prepare a Will so that any property held in your name alone is distributed according to your wishes. Consider the necklace your grandmother gave you, or the first stuffed animal you ever had. What about your computer, your wedding china, or the antique mirror you had to have? Preparing a Will allows you to gift these specific items to someone who would appreciate them just as much as you do.
Your Will provides you with an opportunity to propose a guardian for your minor child in the event your spouse passes first, or if you are a single parent, so that you know your child will be cared for and loved. You can nominate the person to serve as Executor of your Will, giving you sense of calm and confidence that the right person will be handling your affairs.
Proper planning will protect the business you worked so hard to establish, or the home you spent so long saving for. You can make sure any debt you have is handled appropriately so that your loved ones do not bear that burden in the future.
Advance Directives such as a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy allow you to designate someone to act on your behalf if and when you become incapacitated.
Your estate planning attorney can also assist you in your “life planning.” Speaking with a wealth management advisor and insurance advisor are imperative at this stage in life. Whether you have significant funds to invest or are simply looking to make the most of what you have, the right financial planner can help you realize your goals. An insurance advisor who understands your needs can help you plan for your future needs, and those of your loved ones. Your estate planning attorney can refer you to the right professionals so that you have a team working for, and with, you.
Maybe turning 30 isn’t so bad after all.