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Estate planning is for old and young, rich and poor

Some residents of Alberta may share in the common misconceptions that exist with relation to the planning of an estate. The biggest mistake people make is to think that they are much too young even to consider getting started -- believing it is something to deal with around retirement age. Another fallacy is that estate planning deals only with issues that arise after a person's death while the truth is that it can be extremely valuable even during life -- regardless of a person's level of wealth.

Consider a situation in which a person in his or her 20s or 30s suffers catastrophic injuries in an accident that renders him or her incapable of making financial or medical decisions. With proper estate plans in place, that person would have appointed medical and financial powers of attorney who can make these important decisions on his or her behalf -- even if it only temporary until recovery. A similar fate can befall any person at any age.

The value of a person's possessions does not determine the need for estate planning. Even with only limited assets, an estate plan can prevent a judge deciding who will get a person's house, car, jewellery and any other possessions if no plan exists. The court can even decide who should take care of a couple's children should both parents die without having designated a guardian. None of these decisions may be in line with what the deceased person wanted, making it extremely difficult for surviving loved ones.

That brings us to the misconception about age and the need for estate planning. Anyone can be involved in an accident or contract a debilitating disease at any time. Vehicle owners in Alberta do not buy car insurance because they expect to crash, but because they recognize the possibility that it could happen. It may be wise to take similar precautions by securing the services of an experienced estate-planning lawyer who can assist with drafting plans to ensure the person is prepared for whatever life deals him or her.

Source: investopedia.com, "No Estate Plan? Here's Why You Need One", Jared Hoole, Accessed on June 30, 2017

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