Many people believe that estate planning is not something that you have to concern yourself with until you reach the latter stages of your life. While it is true that the average life expectancy in the United States at this time is just over 78 years, this does not mean that you should wait until you reach the age of 75 to start planning your estate. There are no guarantees and each day we hear about people who pass away in accidents unexpectedly, and when you don’t plan ahead it is your family members who will pay the price.
The reality is that you should have an estate plan in place as soon as you become a responsible adult in your own right, and when you get married it becomes even more important. Most married people develop a lifestyle based on two incomes, and if one of these was to suddenly disappear it could severely impact the surviving spouse. Many people will have life insurance to protect the other spouse in this event. In addition, in the event of incapacity advance health care directives are a wise choice.
We would all like to think that our marriages will last forever when we are walking down the aisle, but the reality is that divorce is all too common these days. It is important to remember that estate planning is an ongoing process and your estate plan is going to have to be revisited when your life changes. Divorce is one of these events, and you will inevitably have to make some adjustments to your estate plan should your marriage come to an end. Statistics vary, but it is safe to say that somewhere between 40% and 50% of marriages end in divorce.
Additionally, should you get remarried, you will once again have to revise your estate plan to reflect your new situation.
It is a good idea to develop a working relationship with an estate planning attorney that you feel comfortable with and recognize the fact that you will have to review and revise your estate plan on an ongoing basis as the years pass.