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Estate planning essentials for every life stage: Part 2

We discussed in our last blog post, some estate planning matters that are essential for young single adults. For many individuals, the time when they are single and unattached is a relatively short period of time. While finding love can happen at any age, many people tend to meet a future spouse or life partner while they are in their 20s or 30s. When a serious significant other enters the picture, it's important to make changes and updates to estate planning documents such as a will, health care proxy and durable power of attorney.

Once an individual is married or in a committed and long-term relationship, updates to who is designated as a durable power of attorney and health care proxy should be made. Also, it's important to sign an updated HIPPA release to allow a spouse or partner legal access to health records and the ability to make health care decisions if necessary.

Taking the steps to be proactive and either update existing estate planning documents or create these essential estate planning documents can prevent fights between loved ones in the event the unforeseen occurs. Along with health-related estate planning matters, it's also important to update several other estate planning-related documents to include a wife or partner.

Many people wrongly assume that once they are married all assets and control thereof automatically transfers to a spouse upon death. If a couple has no minor children, some assets pass to a surviving spouse, but a portion may also pass to surviving parents. This may or may not be in accordance with an individual's wishes. It's important, therefore to make necessary updates to a will, trust and other estate planning documents that designate a beneficiary. Doing so helps ensure for the financial security of a surviving spouse and helps prevent fighting among family members.

In our next blog post, we'll continue to examine how estate planning matters change and evolve if a couple chooses to have children.

Source: Bankrate.com, "8 life stages of estate planning," G.M. Filisko, May, 2013

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