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Wills are the first step in estate planning regardless of age

If a Massachusetts adult earns money or owns assets, such as a car or house, estate planning is essential. Regardless of whether an individual is married or has children, an estate plan will ensure that any property is distributed in accordance with his or her wishes. Wills are just the first step in the process, no matter what the person's situation.

Arguably, the best time to engage in estate planning is when an individual is young and healthy. A plan can be executed at any point, but the sooner one is done, the better. Having a will is a good first step, but other documents are needed as well.

Powers of attorney for health and finances can protect an individual if an illness or serious injury causes incapacitation. For instance, when a person is in a coma or suffers from some other mental condition that makes it impossible to make decisions, the person or persons appointed in the powers of attorney are given decision-making powers as prescribed in the documents. They can give an agent either broad or specific powers depending on the individual's preference.

For younger Massachusetts residents who are just starting out in life, wills may be sufficient to pass on assets after death. However, as their lives change, so should their estate plans. Depending on the circumstances, new and/or additional documents may be needed. For instance, getting married and/or having children will necessitate changes in order to provide for a spouse and children in death as in life.

Source: thestreet.com, "Why Millennials and Generation Xers Need to Worry About Estate Planning", James Salter, Nov. 29, 2015

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