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What's the right age to begin estate planning?

Portland, OR |

I'm 25, not married, and with no kids. Do I have any reason to be thinking about estate planning yet?


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Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Yes, you should think about it. The fundamental question is "if I died or became disabled today, how much burden will I put on the people I care about?" Estate planning is mostly about relieving stress for, and creating meaningful communication with, the people you care about.

There are a lot of possibilities, depending on your entire personal and financial situation. It is not possible to list them all. Here is a selection of a few:

Death: If you have more than a car and a checking account with a modest balance, you have some assets that will need to be taken care of. If you have personal or family things that should go to specific people, you will want to take care of that. If you are a beneficiary of a trust or other relationship, your death may trigger events under those documents.
If you have collections like coins, art, whatever, you may want to say where it goes.

Disability. For a young healthy person, disability is usually much more likely than death. Think about how your disability would affect you and the people in your life. Purchasing disability insurance can preserve your quality of life and protect your loved ones from needing to support and care for you.

If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below. Thank you! hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER James Oberholtzer is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the States of Illinois, Oregon and Washington. He has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon. His law practice focuses on estate planning, probate administration, family succession planning, tax,real estate and tax exempt organizations. The foregoing statements do not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.

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Asker

Posted

You DON'T need/want estate planning unless you have loving family members or friends whose interest you want to protect. Especially if there are people who are trying to kill you and benefit from your death, I suggest you do not do estate planning.

J Christopher Minor

J Christopher Minor

Posted

You absolutely DO need estate planning unless you are invulnerable to illness and death. If you don't do anything, the laws of the State of Oregon determine to whom your estate passes. One of the potential beneficiaries is the State of Oregon. And, of course, there are many other issues beyond the question of who receives your estate assets.

Asker

Posted

That's not what I said. Read again. I don't give a dumb s*t to people who did not give damn to me. NO ONE did anything for me (for my benefit) and everyone either took stole from me, abused me, or acted indifferent. I do NOT want anyone family, alleged relatives, strangers, government, lawyers, People, whatver to gain anything from me or my estate. Estate Planning is when you have caring family members, friends, or children whom you want to leave your legacy to. I dont'. I hope they all die poor and got to hell and suffer.

Asker

Posted

That's not what I said. Read again. I don't give a dumb s*t to people who did not give damn to me. NO ONE did anything for me (for my benefit) and everyone either took stole from me, abused me, or acted indifferent. I do NOT want anyone family, alleged relatives, strangers, government, lawyers, People, whatever to gain anything from me or my estate. Estate Planning is when you have caring family members, friends, or children whom you want to leave your legacy to. I don’t'. I hope they all die poor and got to hell and suffer. I don't care about People (and they did nothing benefitial to me). I don't care about the brats. I don't want to leave any legacy if I die. Greedy People and Government can't gain by torturing me to death. I don't give a hoot to them. I never did and I never will. They are self serving, selfish, greedy, malicious crooks, men and women and children.

Posted

I do a huge amount of estate planning. People think that it just revolves around finances and wills, which is incorrect. Anyone over the age of 18 should have a durable financial power of attorney for someone to take care of their financial affairs if they are incapacitated, a medical power of attorney for a family member or friend to make medical decisions if the person can not make them for themselves (unconscious), a DNR document, and a living will (about life support). A simple will can also be prepared. Many people simply do not understand that this is also a key component of estate planning.

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Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman

Posted

In Oregon we have an Advanced Directive which is both a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

Christopher Daniel Leroi

Christopher Daniel Leroi

Posted

Very cool. I wish we would adopt that in CO.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman

Posted

It is just a statutory form that combines the two. You can read it in our statutes. Here it is on line if you want to see it: http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/SHIBA/docs/advance_directive_form.pdf?ga=t Maybe you could forward it to your estate planning section of the bar and see if they want to adopt something similar. Here is another attorney's blog discussing it: http://blog.orolaw.com/2011/07/oregon-advance-directive-health-care.html The one thing I take issue with is the vague way the form coordinates the power of the doctor with the power of your appointed representative. I take the view that my family knows me better than a strange doctor in the ER so I add customized language in both parts B and C to make it clear that my family member is in control of the final decision after they have consulted with the doctor and understand the doctor's medical view of the situation. I think this if very important and something that is not addressed when hospitals hand these forms out in admission packets.

Posted

Any time after 18 is a great time to start planning.

While issues at your age tend to be fairly straight forward, requiring a very simple will, there are other components of an estate plan that are more critical.

Health Care Power of Attorney: Designates who will make medical decisions for you when you are not able to communicate.

Durable Power of Attorney: Designates who will make financial decisions for you when you are not able to communicate.

Living Will: Lets your doctor know if you want to be on life support or not in the event you are in a permanent vegetative state.

HIPAA: Lets your doctors communicate with your family.

At a minimum all people need to have those documents regardless of their estates complexity.

The good news for you is these documents and a basic estate plan that will last you until you are married and or have kids is fairly inexpensive.

Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. No Tax Advice - Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment is not intended to constitute a comprehensive and complete tax consideration analysis, and may not be used by the taxpayer to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency, nor for the purpose of promoting, marketing or making recommendations to other persons on any tax-related matters.

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Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman

Posted

In Oregon we have an Advanced Directive which is both a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will .

Matthew Aaron Wiley

Matthew Aaron Wiley

Posted

Is it mandatory? We have a all in one HPOA in CT but I do not use it. I find the health care docs to be a bit more personal than the Durable (I use the statutory form for the DPOA) so I do not use the statute form.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman

Posted

Nothing is mandatory but you are mixing apples and oranges. The only thing a DPOA does is allow people to make financial decisions for you and it is viable whether or not you are in incapacitated. The Advanced Directive is the document solely concerned with health care decisions, and then only when you are incapacitated. See my comment below to Christopher Leroi's post where I give much more info on Oregon's Advanced Directive.

Matthew Aaron Wiley

Matthew Aaron Wiley

Posted

I understand that. I was merely saying that for Health Care I prefer to use standalone HPOA, HIPAA, and LW rather than a statutory all in one. I feel these documents are so personal that some state statutes are weak. Inversely for the DPOA I use a statutory form because banks have a higher chance to accept it. That being said I thought you had a lot of good information in your answer.

Posted

Maybe, maybe not. It never hurts to go and talk to an attorney and find out what is involved. One thing to consider is what happens if you do nothing - and sometimes it's OK to do nothing. In Oregon if you don't have a will we have laws called intestacy laws which will give whatever property you have to your closest family members in a listed priority that follows what most people would want anyway. If that works for you then you may not need to worry about a will.

If you have very little, Oregon has a small estates affidavit process that makes it easy for your relatives to deal with your estate without a will or probate.

If you become incapacitated your relatives can go to court and set up a guardianship to manage your personal care and a conservatorship to manage your financial care. Any document you made before your incapacity naming the people you prefer to be in charge will be considered by the court and normally followed. If there is no document, the court will follow a statutory list of possible people to appoint to care for you starting with your blood relatives.

If you are in the hospital on life support and have an Advanced Directive, the people you nominated will be consulted as to whether medical treatment should be continued or stopped. But as a practical matter, the same thing will happen if you don't have an Advanced Directive, the doctors will consult with your family members. Probably the biggest differance an Advanced Directive can make is that it can give this decision making power to a non-relative, such as your best friend or your domestic partner, people that would otherwise have no legal input into your care.

There can be tricky situations where an Advanced Directive will make a big difference - such as people with Lou Gherig's disease who can no longer move and may want to die but they aren't at the point where medical science would declare them brain dead. With an Advanced Directive their designated health care representatives can turn off life support without fear of criminal charges. On the other hand, Oregon is a very liberal state when it comes to the right to die. We have legalized assisted suicide. So there are fewer situation where an Advanced Directive is critical then in other states.

So the answer to your question is that it never hurts to do estate planning but if you are strapped for cash and don't get around to it, it won't be the end of the world. You definitely should learn more about it to make an informed decision. If you go to my web page (link is below), on the page called "articles and links" I have free information on estate planning including links that will take you to the Oregon State Bar website where different attorneys have written articles that will explain the topics in this area to you in simple language. I would highly recommend that you read all this information.

The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what might be the law governing the area of the legal problem stated and suggest what might be the approach to finding a legal solution. Under no circumstances is this author acting as the attorney for the party who posted the question or as the attorney for subsequent readers to the question or response and no attorney client relationship is being formed. This attorney's comments are not intended to be a substitute for getting legal advice from a licensed attorney. A reader of this author's comments should never act on the information provided in these comments as though these comments were legal advice and should always seek legal advice in a personal consultation with an attorney in their jurisdiction before taking action. The information provided here is not intended to cover every situation with similar facts. Please remember that the law varies between states and other countries and is always changing through actions of the courts and the Legislature.

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