Among those who have yet to create an estate plan, the most common reason given for the delay is that they are "too young" to need to worry about such things. However, even the young and healthy should take the time to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of a disaster.
The prevalence of nontraditional family structures are one key reason why young adults need an estate plan. California's intestacy laws recognize only blood relatives and spouses as heirs, making no allowances for complicated individual circumstances. If you are unmarried and have no estate plan, your significant other has no legal standing to inherit even if you've been in a committed relationship for many years. If you have a child from a previous relationship, but have not actively been involved in your child's life, your child would still inherit everything due to his or her standing as your closest living relative. If you are unmarried with no children, your parents would inherit everything even if you've been estranged from them since your 18th birthday. If your parents have passed away, but you have half siblings you never see, they still qualify as "whole" relatives eligible to inherit assets under the state's intestacy laws.
To make sure your wishes are respected, you must take the time to prepare an estate plan. A simple will is usually sufficient if you are under 50, in good health, and don't expect to owe any estate tax upon your death. However, if you're the parent of a disabled child, have children from a past relationship that don't get along with your current spouse, and/or think that one of your close relatives might try to contest your will, more advanced estate planning will be necessary.
Financial issues aside, you should also consider preparing an estate plan to make sure that you're protected if you become unable to manage your own affairs. Contrary to popular belief, your parents or your spouse do not have the automatic ability to step in on your behalf in a crisis situation. Power of attorney designations must be used to give the person of your choice the authority to make decisions regarding your finances and/or medical care if you are unable to do so. A living will is used to clarify your wishes regarding your end of life medical care.
How Can We Help?
Our Pasadena estate planning firm can help you create a plan that best addresses your specific needs and ensures that you'll be prepared no matter what the future holds. Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com to schedule an appointment.