Estate planning, which is more than just a Will, is truly an act of love. Having your estate plan in place takes pressure off your grieving relatives if you are incapacitated or pass away. 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 any 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 if both their parents pass away or become permanently incapacitated? An estate plan can designate a trusted relative or friend to serve as the guardian of your children and who can take on the responsibility of raising them.

Child, grandchild or other relative with special needs – If you have a child, grandchild or relative with special needs an inheritance could unintentionally disqualify them from receiving certain government funded programs, like Medicaid, Social Security Disability, and Social Security.

Non-traditional/mixed family – When someone passes away without a Will or other estate planning tools, Washington State law mandates specific 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 just in case you are unable to do so in the future.

Owning real estate – An 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 or family disagreements might 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 even if you’re unable to speak for yourself.

You have pets that you’d like to provide for after you pass away – You might consider Fido part of your family, but the law says he’s property. If you want to make sure your pet is provided for once you’ve passed away, then you’ll need an estate plan to designate 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!