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Family+shadowSimple — peace of mind. Hindsight is 20/20, but if you are reading this, you have the opportunity to plan so your loved ones don’t have to go through the stress and complication of figuring out what you would have wanted.

The idea that you don’t have to plan for your loved ones until you are elderly is false and dangerous. As we get older our likelihood of dying increases, which is why people feel they can wait to plan until then.

The truth is that life and health are fragile, yet we too often forget to live accordingly. I understand that most people don’t want to think about tragic events, but imagine your family having to figure it out while at the same time dealing with just having lost you. In my view, the consequences of not having appropriate planning documents in place are much more significant for individuals with minor children.

Take an example. You are married and have two children, 5 and 2 years old. You have no planning documents in place. Now imagine you and your spouse are in a car accident, and as a result, you are both in a coma.

Now what happens? Who will take care of your children? Who will make your healthcare decisions? Who will pay the bills? Will your friends step in? If they do, will they be the right friends? What about your parents or your siblings? What if they disagree on what is best for you, or your spouse, or your children? These are the difficult questions that your loved ones face if you are temporarily incapacitated, and they have to confront these questions without you or your guidance.

Car+accidentNow imagine that you didn’t survive the accident. You will notice that financial issues are not even discussed on this page. A summary of asset protection and probate issues in estate planning are on the Why You — Later Years  page.  These are two significant motivators for people to see an estate planning attorney.

However, in the example above, money is not the first question that comes to mind when young children are involved, yet too often young parents think of estate planning as financial planning. In reality, it is much more.

No one likes to talk about dying, but the truth is that if you have a family, you must protect them with a legally enforceable and clear estate plan.