Your situation will dictate your estate plan

When creating an estate plan, you need to pay close attention to your personal situation. The same holds true when reviewing your estate plan for changes. If you make decisions based on the needs of someone else, you could end up making mistakes that harm both you and your loved ones now and in the future.

Here are some of the most common situations, including advice on how to tackle each one from an estate planning perspective:

  • Young and single: If you're unmarried, have no children and are under the age of 30, a simple will may be just what you need to feel good about your estate plan. With this document in place, you can name a beneficiary to ensure that your assets end up with the right person should you pass on unexpectedly.
  • Living with your partner, but unmarried: This is more common today than ever before, so you may find yourself in this situation at some point. The thing to remember here is that you need to have a will. If you don't, even if you live with the person, he or she won't be in line to receive any of your assets upon your death.
  • You have children: Everything changes when you bring children into the world, so you need to adjust your estate plan accordingly. In addition to naming your children in your will, if applicable, you also need to name a guardian.
  • You're closing in on or have reached retirement age: At this point, your children are grown and it's just you and your spouse. Even so, this doesn't mean you can forget about your estate plan. You may need to make some key adjustments, such as creating a trust and making sure your health care power of attorney is in order.

Regardless of your situation, there are things you should and shouldn't do when creating an estate plan.

As you learn more about your situation and attempt to make decisions for the betterment of you and your family, you'll come to realize that there are many things you can do to create the perfect estate plan.

When you combine knowledge of your situation with information on estate planning laws, there's nothing standing between you and success.

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