You may think that you don’t need estate planning, but think again. It does not matter if you are young or if you’re older, and it doesn’t matter if you live affluently or modestly. If others are depending on you, you should arrange to speak promptly with a Utah estate planning attorney.

Most people know that an estate plan provides peace of mind and helps care for the loved ones you leave behind. But do you really need estate planning – at your age? If you’ll keep reading, you will learn why the answer to that question is probably “yes.”

Estate planning consists of much more than just drafting a will. Proper estate planning, along with the guidance and insights of the right estate planning lawyer, can eliminate a great deal of confusion and fear, and it also provides genuine peace of mind.

However, too many people avoid estate planning. A survey conducted in 2014 by Rocket Lawyer® indicated that almost two-thirds of the adults in the U.S. – 64 percent – have not even created a will.

When Should You Establish Your Estate Plan?

While most of us consider estate planning only after we’ve become parents, there isn’t any reason to avoid estate planning after you turn age 18. That is when our parents no longer make our health and financial decisions.

Your estate plan spells out who can decide health and financial matters for you and under exactly what circumstances. Upon your death, your estate plan transfers your assets and properties according to your instructions, cost-effectively and quickly.

Effective estate planning requires the creation – with an estate planning attorney’s help – of several detailed financial and legal documents. What documents will you need to create an effective estate plan?

Everyone’s estate planning needs are personal and unique, but your plan should include at least some combination of the legal documents that are discussed below.

What is a Healthcare Directive?

After your 18th birthday, you – and not your parents – make your healthcare decisions. An advance healthcare directive or “living will” provides your loved ones with your instructions for your care when you can’t make those choices or articulate those instructions yourself.

The right estate planning attorney will help you create an advance healthcare directive that protects your interests in a number of different scenarios. Your advance healthcare directive ensures that your wishes will be honored and that your instructions will be adhered to.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a simple and straightforward way to ensure that a person you trust will be handling your finances for you if you should become incapacitated. Everyone who is 18 or older genuinely needs a durable power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney can take effect immediately, or it may be written to go into effect only when a physician verifies that you are incapacitated. It is a document that gives loved ones – or whomever you choose – the guidance that will be needed when you are unable to provide it.

Do You Need a Last Will and Testament?

Your last will and testament spells out how you wish to have your assets and property divided and distributed after your death. If you are a parent, a last will and testament can also name a guardian for your minor children.

However, a last will and testament is a public record that makes the details of personal financial affairs available to anyone. A last will and testament is also subject to probate, so many people – especially those with extensive properties and assets – choose instead to create a living trust.

Should You Establish a Living Trust?

In some ways, a living trust is comparable to a last will and testament. A living trust spells out how your assets and property will be distributed after your death and who will serve as a guardian for your minor children.

When you establish a trust, your assets can be moved into the trust during your lifetime and distributed – by the person you designate as a trustee – to your beneficiaries when that time comes. Your trustee’s duties will be comparable to the responsibilities of a will’s executor.

Living trusts have increased in popularity in recent years as an alternative to wills. A living trust lets your estate skip the probate procedure. Depending on your marital status, age, and the extent of your estate, you may not need a living trust. A last will and testament may meet your needs.

In fact, when you establish a living trust, it may also be a good idea to draft a last will and testament. Whether you need to create a last will and testament or a living trust – or both – will depend on your personal circumstances.

Determining your precise estate planning needs is one reason why you need the personalized advice of an estate plan lawyer.

What Other Estate Planning Documents are Important?

Depending on your family and your circumstances, you may require additional estate planning services. Families with special needs children will want their estates to enhance and enrich the life of their special needs children while maintaining eligibility for public benefits programs.

Are you responsible for the care of an elderly relative? The rising cost of healthcare for seniors is a real concern for many Utah families. The average cost of professional nursing care now surpasses $6,000 a month. Few families in Utah can pay for a long-term nursing homestay.

The right Utah estate planning attorney can develop a personalized asset protection strategy for your family to reduce your eldercare expenses by accessing benefit programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid and by maximizing retirement savings.

How Will An Estate Planning Lawyer Help You?

Once you are 18 years old, it’s not too soon to begin planning your estate. A Utah estate planning lawyer will assist you with wills and trusts, advance healthcare directives, reducing estate taxes, asset protection, special needs trusts for disabled children, and other estate planning services.

Without regard to your age or circumstances, if you are ready to begin planning your estate, you will need to meet with an estate planning lawyer who pays attention to detail, is thorough, and who is dedicated to protecting your long-term best interests.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, so if you haven’t yet started to plan your estate and your future, whether you are 18 or 80, the time to begin is now.