young couple meeting with a estate planning attorney in New Jersey

At what age should I have an estate plan?

You are never too young to start an estate plan. Writing a will or establishing an advanced directive makes sense for most people once they’ve purchased a home, started a business, or had children.

Assets like your bank account, home, personal belongings, life insurance policies, and other accounts need to be protected in the event of your untimely death. Even without these things, you will want loved ones to have guidance on your preferences for an advance directive, as well as a funeral and burial. With an estate plan, you can ensure that the proper documentation is in place to not just protect any assets you hold but also to provide clear instructions to those who care about you most. 

If you are thinking about starting an estate plan, you should consider working with a New Jersey estate planning lawyer. The attorneys at Van Dyck Law Group have extensive experience helping individuals and their families in New Jersey plan for the future. When you meet with us, we will review your situation and help you determine which estate planning services best meet your needs.

Schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney from our firm today by calling (609) 293-2562 or using our form to contact us online.

Age-by-Age Guide to Planning an Estate

It’s never too soon to start planning your estate. Even individuals in their 20s have some considerations to make.

As you get older, it is essential to understand estate plan services, which are right for you, and what you need to do to ensure your wishes are followed if you pass away or are medically incapacitated.

Let’s take a look at the different stages of life and what people should consider in those decades regarding estate planning.

In Your 20s

Once a person turns 18 and is legally considered an adult, their parents no longer have the authority to make medical or financial decisions for them. Even someone who does not have property or children should consider formalizing an advance directive and a power of attorney. These documents will ensure there are sufficient answers to any major questions your loved ones will have in the event of an accident or incident.

An advance directive can ensure medical professionals will follow your wishes in the event you are incapacitated. The guidance offered in these documents typically applies to life-saving measures like feeding tubes, intubation, and resuscitation.

A power of attorney names someone as your decision-maker for medical and/or financial purposes in the event you are incapacitated. Your attorney will explain the different types of powers of attorney and help you decide what you need to file.

In Your 30s

For many people, their 30s are the time they buy a home, settle into a career, and start a family. At that point, estate plan documents like a will or trust are critical. These documents matter a great deal should you unexpectedly pass away. They can ensure your children and spouse are protected financially, and they can answer critical questions about your end-of-life care and last wishes.

A will designates not just the dispersal of your assets, but also who will settle your estate and who will provide care for minors if a spouse is unable to. You may also be interested in setting aside wealth within a trust at this time, in some cases. With a trust, you transfer ownership of your assets to a person known as a trustee. The trustee will manage those assets upon your passing and handle beneficiary distribution.  The trustee is obligated to handle the trust assets in accordance with the terms of the trust document and solely in the best interests of the named beneficiaries. This can present tax advantages as well as a greater degree of control over asset distribution compared to most wills.

While it can be a difficult conversation to have at any age, it is important to talk to your parents about their estate plans when you start planning yours. The work put into your own plans can help guide them to create their own or keep previous plans up to date. Van Dyck Law Group can facilitate that discussion for you.

In Your 40s

If you have reached your 40s without any type of estate plan, it is high time to get started. If you have already started, you will want to review your long-term healthcare and financial wishes to ensure they still reflect your current holdings and personal perspectives.

At this point, you may also want to consider making amendments to include information regarding long-term care and to discuss your retirement planning. No matter how healthy you are now, you may need to consider the possibility of long-term care in the future and how that will be paid for.

In Your 50s and 60s

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals in their 50s and 60s to not have started estate planning. In fact, a 2021 Gallup poll notes that just over half (53%) of U.S. individuals 50-64 say they have a will in place. However, there is still time to create those critical legal documents.

If you were to pass away without an estate plan, your assets might not be appropriately distributed, and your family could be at a loss for how to handle your end-of-life wishes. You may also encounter a medical emergency, and your loved ones — as well as your financial operations — will require guidance.

If you are in a position where you have not yet created an estate plan or only have a simple will in place, we recommend reaching out to a New Jersey estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

In Your 70s and Beyond

Assuming your estate plan is complete when you are in your 70s, all you need to do is review and update it as needed. It is recommended to revisit your estate plan every four to five years.

Making changes is often as simple as contacting your attorney, discussing what needs to be amended, and drawing up the official documentation. You will protect your legacy and family when your estate plan is clear and accurate.

You may also be interested in thinking about the legacy you wish to leave behind or what mechanisms you can use to make the burden of property transfers easier for those you care about. Van Dyck Law Group offers charitable planning and estate tax planning to help you access instruments that best fit your long-term goals. We can also assist you with protecting your assets in the event you need long-term care through Medicaid. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers can discuss your options and which ones best suit the world you intend to leave behind.

The Earlier You Plan, the More Time You Have to Make Changes

We understand that our clients’ needs change over time. As life events occur, like marriages, births, retirements, deaths, etc., a person may request to amend their estate plan multiple times over the course of their life.

Amending an estate plan is expected and recommended, as doing so ensures it is as accurate as possible when it needs to be used. We recognize that many of our clients will stay with us for decades, which is why we take special care to build professional relationships on an individual basis.

Start the Estate Planning Process With Van Dyck Law Group 

Our estate planning attorneys have decades of experience helping individuals and their families sort out their assets and wishes. No matter your background, age, health status, or financial situation, we can help you determine the best path for your family’s future. Additionally, working with a local New Jersey attorney ensures you have access to the most up-to-date information regarding state and federal laws that could impact your plan. 

An estate plan gives you control over your future and provides your loved ones with the support and resources they need to uphold your legacy. Learn more about what estate planning involves when you call (609) 293-2562 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

Van Dyck Law Group Client Reviews

“ Fiona and her team made a complicated and potentially difficult process of planning for the inevitable an easy, pleasant and uncomplicated experience. Amazing!”

– Anonymous survey 2

“ The staff was very professional, courteous, and responsive. The process of updating and restating our trusts was less arduous than anticipated. Every question was clearly explained and clarified and aimed at our level of understanding. This was an A+ service.”

– David & Diane of New Providence, NJ

“ Fiona is professional and highly knowledgeable, but what sets her apart is her ability to explain complex legal details in an easy to understand manner. She is friendly and patiently answered our many questions thoroughly. Her staff is equally friendly and responsive. And they accomplished all of this under virtual conditions! Very pleased with our experience.”

– James and Sheri H.- Hopewell, NJ

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