At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we understand the importance of customizing estate plans to meet the needs and goals of each individual. We also know that estate planning evolves as life changes, so estate plans must be continually re-evaluated and updated. Your lifestyle and plans for the future change with significant life events, such as marriage, buying a home, having children, taking a new job, or opening a business. Certainly, your estate plan at 65 will be significantly different from your estate plan at 35.
Estate Planning at 35
At 35, your adult life is getting underway. For many or even most people, this is the time when you settle down, define your career, and perhaps buy a home and start a family. This is when many people realize how crucial it is to protect their assets and their loved ones.
Designating a Guardian for Your Children
By the age of 35, you may have minor children; if so, appointing a guardian for them is critical. Though contemplating mortality is painful, as a responsible parent you have to plan to protect your children if you die prematurely. Failing to do so will leave the decision of their guardianship up to the court.
Distributing Your Assets
While at age 35 your assets may still be relatively modest, you want to make sure they go to those you intend if the unexpected happens. You may have a home, some savings, a retirement account, a few investments, and life insurance. You need to create a will and also designate beneficiaries on your insurance policies and investments.
You may also want to consider establishing a living trust to avoid probate. You may also want to consider other trusts, for example, if you have a special needs child or your family is a blended one.
Purchasing Life Insurance
At 35, life insurance is essential to protect those who depend on you financially. A term life policy should be relatively inexpensive if you are healthy. Such a policy will provide a safety net for your spouse, children, or aging parents.
Estate Planning at 65
By the time you have turned 65, your needs will have changed and your estate plan must follow suit.
By 65, most likely you’re retiring or approaching retirement and may have accumulated significant assets that you want to protect as well as enjoy. In addition to using some assets for travel or other deserved pleasures, you may want to shift your estate planning strategy to preserving wealth for your adult children and grandchildren. Our attorneys can help you create irrevocable trusts to shield your assets from the risks of excessive taxation, creditors, lawsuits, or ex-spouses.
Planning for Incapacity
At 65, healthcare becomes a more pressing issue. To prepare for possible illness or medical events, we will help you by drafting essential documents — e.g. health care proxy, advance directive — that will see you and your loved ones through healthcare challenges.
Charitable Giving and Gifting to Family Members
Now that you’re officially a senior, you may be considering charitable giving and/or gifting assets to family members. These actions serve dual purposes, providing an outlet for your generosity and offering you tax advantages. To these ends, we will assist you in setting up a charitable trust or using the annual gift tax exclusion to enjoy seeing the benefits of your gift-giving in real time.
At your present life stage, you may be dealing with required minimum distributions from retirement accounts, the tax implications of selling property, and the very real potential for federal and state estate taxes. This is when strategic tax planning is required to ensure that the maximum possible amount of your estate goes to your heirs.
No matter what your age, having a trustworthy estate planning lawyer is invaluable. Laws in Massachusetts and elsewhere are constantly changing and you need a knowledgeable attorney to keep up with them as well as with your life changes. Contact our talented legal team today to make sure your estate plan is current and durable.