For parents, typically a major part of estate planning is considering how their children might benefit from estate assets. It is also important to think about how to protect adult children from having to make difficult medical, financial or legal decisions in the event that you become incapacitated. While these are all common concerns for parents, estate planning can go far beyond protecting assets for family members.
For example, if you are unmarried and childless, then your estate planning goals and priorities are likely quite different than the long-term goals of parents. According to reports from charitable foundations, a growing number of individuals of all ages are making arrangements to leave wealth to their favorite causes or organizations. The phenomenon is especially prevalent among people who don't have children.
What you don't want is for your estate to go to probatewithout controlling documents such as a will or a trust. Not having a will -- or being intestate -- results in the appointment of a court-appointed executor to distribute your hard-earned assets. Too often, the assets of people who die intestate are distributed in ways that the decedent would have never wanted.
There is also the matter of future incapacitation, which is a possibility for everyone of any age and from any background. Have you drafted a document naming someone to handle your financial affairs in the event that an injury or illness leaves you incapacitated? Have you drafted a healthcare directive that specifies who will make medical decisions for you and what those decisions should be?
These are questions for all estate owners, regardless of your age or the size of your estate.