I’m Under 40
Your life feels newly super-sized with career responsibilities surging and, perhaps, a young family in the nest. You’re focused on the present, but what would happen to your loved ones if they were faced with your sudden death?
Being as young as you are, it’s probably not an everyday thought. Nevertheless, let us help you protect the people and causes you love with your first estate plan.
First Consideration: Setting up a will
Why do you need a will? Because it allows you to:
- Direct the division of your property the way you choose-not the way the state decides.
- Make special asset management arrangements for your family members who are minors, disabled or unfamiliar with money management.
- Name a guardian for physical custody of your minor children.
- Select an executor (personal representative) who is well-qualified to settle your estate promptly and economically, with careful attention to your wishes.
- Provide vital support for your favorite charitable institutions.
- Devise an estate plan, with the help of a qualified attorney and other advisors, to minimize the taxes on your estate.
If you leave this world without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law and your wishes may not be fulfilled. Likewise, having an outdated will also means that your current intentions will not be carried out. So when change occurs in your life, remember to update your will.
Second Consideration: Setting up a power of attorney†
A power of attorney is a legal document allowing another person or entity you choose (called your agent) to act on your behalf, in terms of financial matters such as handling your finances and paying bills.
With a power of attorney, you ensure that if you cannot take care of items yourself, your affairs will still be handled. In the document, you give your agent authority only for the types of transactions you desire. For example, you could have someone perform any of the following tasks:
- Write checks
- Borrow money
- Sell assets
- Manage property
- Handle legal claims
- Gain entry to safe-deposit boxes
- Prepare and file tax returns
- Deal with insurance and retirement benefits
- Exercise stockholder rights
- Contract for services
- Make gifts to family and charitable organizations
Depending upon state law, your power can be drafted to become effective now or later, if you become mentally incapacitated (a springing power).
†A power of attorney must be signed by you and may need to be witnessed or notarized, depending on state law. Your selected agent could be your spouse or adult child, a financial professional, or an organization such as a bank. Choose someone you trust to honor your wishes. If you select an individual, name a successor in case the first person predeceases you.