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5 stages of life and the estate plans to match

While we believe that estate planning is important for everyone, we also know that a person's needs and goals change over time. Here's a look at five possible life stages and some of the estate planning tools important to each.

A young, single person probably hasn't thought much about estate planning and what might happen to his or her property upon death. Most people in their early 20s haven't had time to accumulate much property, though you should consider a will if you have any assets at all, such as a savings account. More importantly, you should ensure your health care power of attorney is completed so your wishes are followed in the event of a medical crisis.

As 20-somethings graduate college, start careers and develop other life plans, they might move in with a significant other. If you aren't married and you are building a life with a partner, a will can be critical. The law provides some protection for married couples, but if you pass away without a will, your unmarried partner might not end up with anything that was yours.

A next life stage for many people is children. Whether you get married first or move right to having kids, wills and trusts can become important considerations. Trusts let you provide for the needs of your minor children even after you're gone, and you'll also want to appoint guardians that you trust to take care of your children.

A fourth common stage is middle age. During this time of life, children might be transitioning into adulthood or still minors, which means you'll need to plan appropriately for their care. You might also have had time to build some wealth or attain assets such as a home; estate planning can help you protect those assets and pass them on to loved ones should anything happen to you. You might also start planning for later life concerns with long-term health insurance and life insurance.

Finally, in older age or if you are ill, estate planning becomes a more urgent matter. Hopefully you've already worked with an estate lawyer on your plans, but you should continue to maintain them as things in your life and your family change.

Source: FindLaw, "Estate Planning Tips: Find the Right Estate Plan for You," accessed March 03, 2017

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