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Why young families should have an estate plan in place

Getting married and starting a family is something that many people in Massachusetts plan to do. Often times, people may end up having rather specific plans in place related to the age at which they get married, when they want to start having children, how many children they will have and where they will live as a family. Some of these plans work out while others do not, but having a plan in the first place can be a good step.

However, too many young people are failing to make one of the most important plans of all: an estate plan. Younger people may think that they do not need to worry about any of this until they are older or have significantly more assets. But it is important to remember that people of all ages and from all backgrounds can benefit from an estate plan.

When a person passes away, spouses and children of any age can be greatly affected by whether or not the person had a will in place. Having a will or a trust in place can make it much easier for loved ones to make some difficult decisions. This not only relates to finances and assets, but also to the care of children.

For example, if a parent passes away and leaves minor children behind, figuring out who will care for them can be extremely hard if the parent has not left instructions in a will. There could be lengthy court hearings and there is a possibility that the children would be placed in foster care if no guardian is appointed. Avoiding all these emotional and disruptive steps can be done by having terms for guardianship specified in an estate plan. 

Money can also be a point of contention if there is no estate plan. Regardless of how substantial a person's estate is, it will ultimately be distributed to others. Whether this is coordinated by a stranger or by the specific directions outlined in a person's will is up to each person.

Young people may not think that they need to make plans for an event that may not happen for decades. However, estate plans can give parents and young people the peace of mind of knowing that their loved ones will be taken care of after they can no longer do it themselves. 

Source: The Times Herald, "Matt Wallace: Young families need to do estate planning, too," May 25, 2013

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