There are many reasons clients are motivated to do their estate planning, but the two I hear most are they are going to be travelling, usually overseas, or they have an upcoming surgery. Nothing like flying across the ocean or going under the knife to get you thinking about your mortality.
Along those lines, my observations suggest people equate estate planning with dying. Thus, they are aware that they may need a will, or maybe a trust. They are usually unaware of or less interested in financial and health care powers of attorney, which are actually very valuable estate planning tools while you are alive.
It is also my observation that most of my clients are over 50. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising because it usually takes people awhile to become aware of their mortality or to feel like they have enough to constitute an estate. However, the one thing most of my clients had long before they were 50 that warrants an estate plan is kids! Not only can you make financial provisions for your kids in your estate plan, you can also say who you would want to take charge of your children’s care, if they are minors, if something happened to you and their other parent.
When I have occasion to work with clients with young children, deciding on guardians and conservators, or creating trusts for kids, is usually their highest priority and motivation for coming to see me. I usually get the impression that they have given this significant thought and discussion prior to our meeting. Nevertheless, it is my observation that families with young children make up a relatively small proportion of our clientele. Perhaps the odds are in their favor, but life is unpredictable.
Whatever your motivation, estate planning puts you in charge of how you want your care, finances, and family matters managed in the event you become incapacitated or die. I challenge you to take charge!