Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. Anyone with a family, retirement investments, or specific ideas about how they want their assets allocated needs an estate plan. Furthermore, estate planning involves more than your money and property. It allows you to assign someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf or enact an advanced directive that ensures your healthcare wishes are honored if you cannot advocate for yourself.
However, estate planning strategies look different when you’re 35 versus 65. A 35-year-old may think of an estate plan as something they can put off for many more years, while a 65-year-old may wish their 35-year-old self had taken estate planning more seriously. An estate planning attorney can help set financial and estate planning goals and develop strategies to get you there, regardless of age.
Estate Planning Strategies at 35
In your early-to-mid 30s, retirement seems a long way off, as does the need for a living will. You could be starting a family, getting married, or focusing on your career. Regardless of your situation, estate planning at this stage of life allows you to put legal protections in place to provide for your family in case something happens to you, whether it’s your parents or spouse and children.
While you may be in good health, the unexpected can happen, and you could be unable to advocate for yourself. That’s why it’s crucial to have an estate plan that includes your advanced directives for your finances and healthcare should you be incapacitated. You can select someone you trust to be in charge, such as a spouse, parent, or estate planning lawyer.
You may also consider setting up trusts to cover education for a child or a Special Needs Trust if you have a child with special needs. If you get married, your estate plan may need to be modified to include your spouse. For example, suppose you had a parent or someone else on an account or property deed as the Transfer on Death (TOD) beneficiary. In that case, you might want to change that to your spouse so that the property or account directly transfers to them and doesn’t go through probate.
Finally, estate planning in your 30s should include retirement and investment strategies, even if you have plenty of working years left. When you have three decades of work ahead of you, you may have the flexibility to be more aggressive with investments or take more significant risks for greater rewards. Your estate planning lawyer can give you investment advice when planning your estate.
Estate Planning Strategies at 65
Whether you’ve put off estate planning until retirement or already have an estate plan in place, you may find that your needs have significantly changed now that you’re in your mid-60s. You may need to shift your focus from preserving assets for your retirement and start planning to enroll in Medicaid or file for Social Security benefits. The timing of both of these is essential to maximize your benefits while preserving your assets as much as possible.
Your estate planning lawyer may be able to help you draft a Medicaid Protection Trust, for example, or place a home in a trust so that it is not subject to Medicaid clawback.
Your mid-60s estate plan should also include comprehensive protections for your health. Your relationships may have changed since you initially drafted a healthcare power of attorney, for example, so now you need to designate someone else. Or, your healthcare needs have changed, and you need more protections in place to make sure that, in the event you cannot advocate for yourself, your wishes for medical treatment are honored.
Finally, an estate plan for someone in their 60s should include protections against fraud or financial elder abuse. An attorney can monitor your accounts or investments or otherwise supervise your finances to ensure that a caregiver or another person isn’t taking advantage of you.
Contact Shaw & Nelson Today
Do you need help with an estate plan, or do you need to change your existing documents? Updating your estate plan at every stage of life is essential, and the Shaw & Nelson legal team can help. Book a complimentary call today and learn more about how our estate planning lawyers could help you.