More people than you might think put off estate planning until they are getting ready to retire or have already retired. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons that we will discuss, but basically an estate “plan” is a road map to the future so it makes sense to have it with you early in the trip.
Accomplished estate planning attorneys help their clients have secure journeys by protecting their assets and their loved ones. At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we have spent decades guiding our clients to use well-established estate planning tools, such as trusts and other specifically designed documents, to prepare for expected events and expenses as well as for possible contingencies.
Reasons Not to Wait Until Retirement To Do Your Estate Planning
1. If you haven’t prepared for retirement, you may not have one.
While we may all dream of retirement and the joy of having a life free of work and worries,
for most of us retirement doesn’t just happen; it has to be planned for. Social Security does not typically provide enough of a cushion to live on comfortably, and pensions (which are not part
of everyone’s portfolio) vary substantially. If you wait until you’re 55 to begin thinking realistically about retirement, you won’t have the necessary years to accumulate the resources retirement requires.
2. If you die suddenly without a will, you may leave your family in dire straits.
Most people, if they allow themselves to think about their own death at all, like to imagine dying quickly and painlessly in their own bed at a ripe old age. Nonetheless, large numbers of people die before they have reached the age of 50 due to car accidents, falls, illnesses, or sudden medical events.
If you die without having a will in place, not only will your family be left scrambling for money while the court decides who your beneficiaries will be, but your children, if left without a parent, will not be tended by the person of your choice. Do you really want them to be left with a guardian the court has chosen?
3. If you become suddenly incapacitated without the proper documents in place, you will lose the power to make your own decisions about legal, financial, and healthcare matters.
Suppose you are in a serious car accident or have a sudden appendectomy (events that can happen at any age). If you have not filled out and signed the forms listed below, what happens next is out of your control:
- Durable Power of Attorney to allow a person you choose to make any necessary legal or financial decisions on your behalf while you are incapacitated
- Health Care Proxy that gives your chosen individual the ability to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself
- HIPAA Compliance form to permit the people you name to have access to your medical records
- Advance Directive (Living Will) to state what medical measures you want taken if you are at the end of your life (e.g. intubation, feeding tube insertion)
Unless you have these documents already prepared as part of your estate plan, your family may not have  access to funds from your bank account  the ability to understand precisely what your medical condition is  the authority to decide whether or not you should have an operation  whether you should be kept on life support or not according to your wishes.
There are many more reasons to start your estate planning before it becomes urgent, such as protecting your assets, your special needs child, or a beneficiary with a substance abuse problem.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Today
If you reside in Southeastern Massachusetts or on Cape Cod and haven’t yet begun the estate planning process, get in touch with our highly skilled legal team to get started. Don’t let the years slip by without doing what’s necessary to plan for the retirement you are entitled to and taking steps to protect yourself and those your love most. Get in touch with our team today.