This week is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Wait—don’t leave this page yet! I know that a lot of our readers think they’re too young to worry about estate planning, but that’s a misunderstanding that’s going to hurt your family if you don’t snap yourself out of it. Each and every one of us needs to have an estate plan, from college freshman to retired seniors. The type of plan and amount of planning may vary, but if you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you need to start giving some consideration to your estate plan.
- Do you have any debt? Debt doesn’t necessarily just go away once someone dies. Their survivors, estate or cosigners might be asked to pay for the debt, leaving their loved ones in a huge financial bind. A life insurance policy can help take care of that debt so your loved ones can concentrate on grieving and healing.
- Do you own any assets? If you own anything—a car, an expensive bike, a pricey guitar, even a gaming, comics or figurine collection—then you’ll want an estate plan that ensures those possessions are distributed to the right people after you’re gone. You want to make sure they go to those who understand the underlying value of the items and will either sell them for what they’re worth or keep them safe so they can continue to increase in value.
- Do you have children? You might not want to think about what will happen to your children when you pass away, but you need to. If you and your spouse or partner dies, you need to have a chosen caregiver. You also want to make sure that you have assets in a trust that will go to the child when they grow up and that there are assets to help the caregiver provide for them throughout childhood.
An estate plan isn’t just about paving the way for an easier transition after you’re gone; it’s also about giving you peace of mind while you’re living. Think about the ways that an estate plan will help you sleep easier and let that guide you toward the steps you need to take to make it happen.