You are never too young to have an estate plan in place. Even for people just starting out in their careers, estate planning offers multiple protections.
According to U.S. News & World Report, there are certain essential items to include in your estate plan, regardless of your age or wealth. These items protect your assets after you are gone, but they can also help while you are still alive.
Last will and testament
A will is the cornerstone of the estate planning process. It states how you would like your assets disbursed after you die. This includes property, such as your home and vehicle. Trusts may provide more control over the timing of asset distribution, and they also help you avoid probate but not taxes if you are above exemption levels. Accordingly, many people use wills and trusts in their estate plans.
Living will and health care proxy
A living will spells out your wishes when it comes to end-of-life medical care. A healthcare proxy gives another person authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to. Both elements go hand in hand if you cannot communicate your wishes to others. Any adult over the age of 18 can serve as your health care proxy, including family members, spouses, and friends. Just make sure you choose a person whom you trust to take on the substantial responsibility.
You choose who receives proceeds from a life insurance policy or retirement plans by completing beneficiary designations, as opposed to providing instructions within your will. Beneficiary designations override other elements of your estate plan, so update them after a new marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.
While it is unpleasant to consider your mortality, do not put off estate planning. Not only does it benefit you, but it also helps your family long after you are gone.