Who Should Start Estate Planning and When?

family meeting with lawyer to discuss estate planning

Posted by heritagelaw on Nov 30, 2022 in Blog, Wills & Estate

There’s no magic age at which a person should start planning their estate, but many people believe this isn’t something they need to worry about until they are older.

The truth is that the unthinkable can happen at any age, and without a proper estate plan, how can you ensure your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes?

The short answer to the question, “Who should start estate planning and when?” is:

You and now!

To demystify the process of creating an estate plan, Heritage Law is here to walk you through what an estate plan is, what it includes, and when you should get started on creating one:

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a process in which an individual organizes their assets and how they will be managed following their death or if they become incapacitated.

This includes how those assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed.

An estate plan involves writing a will, setting up trusts, appointing guardians for dependents, and creating a power of attorney.

While estate planning may seem like a “later in life” problem, the reality is that not having an estate plan can cause monumental stress on your loved ones after you pass.

It opens the doors to costly court proceedings and the potential for complicated conflicts.

When Should You Start Estate Planning?

couple discussing paper documents, sitting together on couch at home

As soon as you become a legal adult, you become completely responsible for your healthcare and finances – this is the best time to begin estate planning.

However, it’s normal for young adults to forego worrying about their estate plans! 

But there are some life events that shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to starting an estate plan, such as:

  • Homeownership
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Divorce
  • Inheritance money
  • Grandchildren

If you didn’t begin your estate planning when you entered adulthood, it’s essential that you start the process following major changes in your life.

When to Write a Will

Creating a will allows you to divide up your assets so that your family and loved ones are taken care of after your passing.

Legally, you can create a will in Canada as soon as you turn 18, but most people write their will when they hit the above life milestones.

If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed to your next of kin according to provincial law, and how your assets are divided may not go the way you would have wanted.

Not having a will places undue stress on your loved ones and opens the doors for conflict.

So when should you write a will? If you haven’t done so already, now is the time!

When to Establish a Trust

A trust helps protects your beneficiaries and ensures that your property is effectively transferred when it’s time.

Trusts are commonly created for minor children.

If you have underage children or grandchildren, you may want to set up a trust now so that they are eligible to access your assets according to a schedule or when they come of age.

Trusts can be used to care for disabled or special-needs children by ensuring that funds are available to provide proper childcare following your passing.

Although you can set up a trust at any time, it is best to have it established while your children are still young.

When to Appoint Guardians

As soon as your child is born, you should appoint a guardian in your estate plan.

A guardian is someone that you appoint in your will to take custody of your minor children if something should happen to you and their other parent.

It can also be a person appointed to care for a dependent individual.

If you don’t appoint a guardian in your will, the courts will appoint someone to take care of your children.

When to Create a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney, or POA, is a document that gives another party legal authority to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

This document handles your affairs while you are still alive but is still an important component of estate planning.

Without a POA, your family will likely face costly and time-consuming delays by applying to the court to have a guardian or conservator appointed.

While it’s recommended that you establish a power of attorney when you begin planning your estate, it’s especially crucial that you appoint one as you age or if your health begins to decline.

When to Update Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated every five years or whenever you experience a significant life milestone or change.

How to Get Started With Estate Planning

You can plan your estate on your own, but proper estate planning involves many different elements that become complicated if you’re not sure what you are doing.

There are many different professionals involved in the estate planning process that can ensure your estate plan is properly created, such as lawyers, tax specialists, and financial planners.

However, you can take control of your own estate planning by using a combination of professional services and estate planning tools.

At Heritage Law, we offer estate planning online forms to help get you started!

After you have completed the online forms, our team will be in touch to continue the process.

To make the process as easy as possible, it is also helpful to gather necessary documentation, such as bank accounts, insurance policies, and titles.

You can also take an inventory of your valuable possessions, such as keepsakes and heirlooms.

With everything in place, planning your estate is as easy as visiting a professional!

Estate Planning Lawyers Edmonton – Here to Help You!

Heritage Law is an estate planning law firm that is here to relieve the burden of estate planning by offering professional services tailored to your unique needs.

Our team is dedicated to supporting and guiding you through the process to protect your loved ones and ensure your wishes are met.

Contact our South Edmonton office today to get started!