Family is at the heart of everything we do at Shepard Law. While many of our clients find us through their real estate agents and work with our team toward a successful home purchase or sale, they often stay with us long after, leaning on us for support for their families’ needs throughout all of life’s changes. A natural next step in the relationship comes when clients enlist our trusted guidance for the estate planning process — which covers everything from the guardianship of your minor children in the event of a tragedy to the distribution of your property and assets after you pass.
Estate planning involves multiple documents that require thoughtfulness and diligence to complete, and Shepard Law is committed to being there every step of the way. This article will explore the importance of estate planning at any life stage, and explain the potential consequences of waiting to get started.
If you’re like a lot of people, the image that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “estate planning” is of a well-off family patriarch or matriarch with lots of expensive assets to secure before the approaching end of their life. There is a common misconception that estate planning is only needed for certain types of people — the wealthy and the elderly — but this is far from the truth. We’re delighted when clients approach Shepard Law at many stages of life to start their estate plan.
There’s no “correct” age or tax bracket you need to reach to qualify for estate planning — and even if the assets you’ve accumulated thus far are more on the modest side, you have more to plan for than you think. Here are some of the most common life circumstances our clients go through that highlight the importance of estate planning for everyone.
Family members who are just turning of age and gaining their independence are often focused on finishing school or working hard at their first entry-level job — but they need to begin estate planning too, even at the most basic level.
At eighteen, your parents no longer have the legal permission to make personal and medical decisions that may be in your best interest, even if illness or an accident renders you unable to make those decisions yourself. Estate planning ensures that your family can make decisions on your behalf in the event of a tragedy.
Along the road of one of life’s most joyful and rewarding journeys, newlyweds and young parents should prepare ahead of time in case the unthinkable happens. Should a tragic event occur, your children’s lives will be greatly improved by your decision to ensure their guardianship is set according to your wishes and to grant them financial security.
Recently-divorced adults need a new Will and Testament, an updated Power of Attorney, and more to evolve with their life changes. Many of our clients are women who are in the midst or the aftermath of a divorce, and Shepard Law helps to secure those legal documents in a timely manner to ensure protection for our clients and their families.
Finally, estate planning remains a hallmark of advancing in age. Those who are retired can ensure one less worry for their loved ones by planning for how their important assets will be handled after their passing.
The team at Shepard Law knows how important the well-being of your family is. Our passion for estate planning and the plan-ahead approach comes from our years of experience helping people of all ages through challenging circumstances – ones that can be made even more difficult by a lack of preparation.
Unfortunately, personal wishes and state law don’t always go hand-in-hand. Minor children can easily be funneled into the foster care system if their parents don’t set out guardianship ahead of time. Parents who don’t have designated legal guardianship over their incapacitated adult child must take time away from his or her bedside to go to the courthouse and obtain permission to make crucial decisions about their health and future. And entire households can be left in chaos because no plans were made for a late loved one’s assets.
Putting estate planning on your to-do list as soon as possible can be the difference in preventing inconvenient — or even devastating — outcomes for those you leave behind if you pass away unexpectedly.
Some individuals and families assume that you cannot make changes to estate planning documents after the initial drafts are created. This is a common misconception, and unfortunately, it’s one that keeps some families from pursuing the very planning that would ensure their wishes are fulfilled and their safety secured in case of unexpected challenges.
Just like your ever-evolving family life, your estate plan is far from permanent. In fact, it’s normal to start with a basic plan and add to it as you accumulate assets and welcome new family members. By beginning the process now, you will have the Shepard Law team to turn to for additional help as your life and circumstances change in new and exciting ways — and we’ll be there to help through the challenging parts, too.
Taking care of the estate planning process now is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and your legacy — and because Shepard Law takes the lead in this journey with clients just like you throughout North Carolina, there’s no reason to wait!
Shepard Law’s mission is simple: making the work of securing your affairs as streamlined as possible. Client education is at the forefront of our practice, so we’ll make sure you understand every step of the journey and are never left in the dark. You can count on our attorneys to make recommendations that are in your best interest at each of life’s milestones; whether you’re preparing for your first home or celebrating the life of a loved one, we’ll be there with open arms and sound guidance.
We hope this article gives you the knowledge and encouragement you need to begin the estate planning journey. Contact Shepard Law to learn more about our estate planning services or to get started today. In our next article, we’ll explore our role in helping you buy and/or rent out a second home.