A quick Google search reveals about 10,000 articles providing 5, 10, 15, or more reasons why everyone needs an estate plan. While that makes a catchy headline, it may not be technically correct. After all, in most instances, it is impossible for minors under 18 years old to enter into legal agreements. It is not reasonable for your five year old (or even high school student) to have a will drafted or a trust created for assets.
But realistically, when at what point is it prudent for New York resident to draft at least a minimal estate plan, including a Last Will and Testament? Perhaps more importantly, at what point does it make sense for one to invest some money in having a professional create an estate plan?
Not Age But Life Circumstances
The answer to the question is the perennially legal refrain: It Depends. It is best to view estate planning needs not by age but by circumstances. For example, even young adults should consider crafting a quality estate plan if:
1) You have children - The naming of alternative caregivers and other preferences for child-rearing is a part of all plans for parents with young children.
2) You own a home - Most young adults do not yet have sizeable assets to their name. But there are exceptions. Some have inherited sizeable wealth from parents or grandparents. Other may have saved and purchased a large asset. Ultimately, anyone with significant resources of any kind should ensure they have legal documents in place for a seamless transfer of those assets (and potential tax savings)
3) You have particular funeral/service preferences - It is only through a Will that your specific ideas about burial and funeral services can be enshrined legally. Residents of all ages with unique spiritual or religious preferences about these matters may want to ensure their wishes are explicit.
4) You have unique health challenges - Estate plans are understandably on the minds of older residents for whom death seems closer. However, all those with various health challenges should have a plan in place to name alternative decision-makers in case a disability arises which makes it impossible for one to care for themselves. This is true no matter how old you are.
In short: It may not make sense for everyone to pay for an estate plan immediately upon graduating from high school. But in some cases it could make sense. Not all 18 year olds need a detailed plan. But an 18 year old who owns a house or has children might need one.
An experienced estate planning attorney can provide straight-forward advice on what type of planning, if any, makes sense in your case. For help on these issues in Albany, Saratoga spring, Rhinebeck, Fishkill, Middletown, and many other communities through New York, please contact our lawyers today.