For National Estate Planning Awareness Week, October 19-25, 2015, we wanted to offer a helpful checklist for making important life choices. While estate planning is something generally associated with those of advanced years, it’s quite relevant for people of all ages. Here are a few benchmarks to consider.

Entering Adulthood

Once someone turns 18, a comprehensive estate plan is usually not necessary because most people that age lack the assets that require having such a financial plan. However, since turning 18 legally marks adulthood, it’s a good idea to delegate a health care power of attorney. If you are the parents of young adults, encourage them to designate an agent who can make medical decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Without this precaution, parents or guardians may be unable to act for them in the event of a medical emergency.

Growing Family

The primary responsibility of parents is to care for their children. So once your family grows, specify a guardian for your children in case you or your spouse can’t be there. Writing a will or trust safeguards your children’s inheritance and secures their care through adulthood.

Things Change

Because unexpected things happen in life, try your best to prepare for it. When a couple divorces, important documents must be revised to include new beneficiary designations.

At Midlife

If you’re middle-aged, long-term care may not be on the top of your mind, but it’s actually a very good time to start the conversation. The realities of health issues often enter the fore during this life stage.

Golden Years

For older people, one of the most significant tasks is deciding on a durable financial power of attorney, assigning healthcare proxy, obtaining HIPAA release for caregivers and updating a will as needed.

Estate planning is a serious undertaking, but a very important one for your peace of mind as well as that of your loved ones.

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