Have you ever wondered if there is a specific timeline for someone to meet with an estate planning attorney? Is it when you reach a specific age? Is it when you buy a house? Is it when you get married (or divorced)? Is it when you have built a "substantial" nest egg? The answer to each of the above questions is: YES! The timing as to when to meet with an estate planning attorney depends on a lot of factors, but generally speaking, the following are guidelines to help you decide whether it is time for you to meet with an estate planning attorney.
When Someone Turns Eighteen. An individual is considered an adult at eighteen in Washington. At this age, parents may no longer make medical or legal decisions for their young adult child. In order for a parent of an eighteen-year-old to make financial, legal, or medical decisions on behalf of their child, that child should execute a Durable General Power of Attorney and a Power of Attorney for Healthcare. For more information about legal documents that anyone eighteen years and up should have, please see the article below.
When You Have No Estate Planning Documents. If you do not have any estate planning documents, it is a good idea to meet with an attorney to discuss your estate planning options. The more you plan, the more you can control: from who is in charge, to who the beneficiaries of your estate would be. If you decide that you do not need estate planning documents, fear not (or maybe do fear) because Washington State has default inheritance rules in place that apply if you die without an estate plan in place (whether you like it or not).
When There is a Birth. A new baby is something to celebrate and often it is an impetus for parents to meet with an estate planning attorney. Why? Because now there is the concern about who would take care of the baby if something were to happen to them. Parents want to ensure that their child would be physically and financially protected. One part of the estate planning process is to name guardians (temporary and permanent) for minor children. Another important reason to do estate planning is for children with special needs, which may require special planning considerations. The same holds true if you are grandparents of a special needs grandchild and you want to provide for that grandchild in your own estate plan. A meeting with an estate planning attorney and executing a proper estate plan can prevent a lot