Estate planning is an act of love that shows you care about your family and friends. If you are incapacitated or pass away, then having your estate plan in place takes pressure off your grieving relatives. Deciding when to make your estate plan is more about your stage of life and your wishes than your age or net worth. If you find yourself in one or more of the following categories, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your options.

Minor Children – If you have a minor child or children, what will happen to them in the event both parents pass away or become permanently incapacitated? With proper estate planning you can designate a trusted relative or friend to serve as guardian of your children and assume the responsibility of raising them.

Child, grandchild or other relative with special needs – Government funded programs such as Medicaid, Social Security Disability, and Social Security Income have strict asset/income guidelines for those receiving benefits. Be sure to discuss your estate planning options with an attorney so you don’t unintentionally disqualify a child, grandchild or relative from receiving the benefits they need.

Non-traditional/mixed family – When someone passes away without a Will or other estate planning tools, Washington State law provides legally mandated rules of inheritance. These laws may not coincide with your wishes based upon your specific family dynamics.

Single, divorced, or widowed adult – As an unmarried adult, it is particularly important to utilize Durable Powers of Attorney so that someone you trust can make medical decisions for you and/or manage your finances in the future just in case you are unable to do so.

Ownership of real estate – A proper estate plan can reduce the costs of transferring land or real estate, especially if you own real estate in different states. Without the proper estate plan your heirs may face multiple, expensive and time consuming probates.

You don’t want to stay on life support – Hospital policies, family disagreements or other circumstances may keep you on life support even though you would have chosen to “pull the plug.” A Health Care Directive can ensure your wishes are honored at a time when you’re unable to speak for yourself.

You have pets that you’d like to provide for after you pass away – Even though you consider Fido part of your family, according to the law he is just a piece of property. If you want to make sure your pet is provided for once you’ve passed away, then you’ll need an estate plan for this.

These are some of the most common reasons to have your own estate plan, but there are plenty of others. If you’re still unsure whether you need an estate plan you can always call Cooney Law Offices to see how an estate plan can help make sure your wishes are followed. We can help!