The more unpleasant and stressful a process is, the more reasons someone will generally find to procrastinate about it. Estate planning requires that people carefully analyze their finances and digital assets, which is often a stressful experience. They will also need to think about what happens not just to them but to the other people that they love when they die.
The act of contemplating one’s own mortality or future medical emergencies is not pleasant, and so people can very easily rationalize the choice to delay the estate planning process. They tell themselves that the best time to create plans will be in the future at some point. When is it actually the right time for someone to put together an estate plan?
When they become adults
Essentially anyone who is over the age of 18 may need an estate plan to have someone care for their finances and health if there is an emergency. Even though the average 18-year-old may not have any dependents or major property yet, they might require the protection of an estate plan. They could have an emergency at their first job or while away at college that puts them in the hospital. Without an advance directive explaining their medical wishes and powers of attorney granting other people the authority to make medical choices on their behalf, they may not have any control over what type of care they receive.
When they have dependent family members
Maybe a young adult takes custody of their siblings when their parent goes to prison, or perhaps someone marries and has children. Those who have dependents often need to put together an estate plan to ensure that their family members have appropriate support in the event of their death. Naming a guardian, purchasing life insurance and earmarking certain assets to pass to dependent family members can all be important decisions for someone with loved ones to support.
When they prepare for retirement
If someone does not have an estate plan yet or if they created a plan years ago, then it is often smart to put together a will and other estate planning paperwork while preparing for retirement. The process can help someone protect their assets and potentially make it easier for them to qualify for certain forms of state aid as they age.
There are many points throughout life during which people become aware of their mortality and the vulnerability of their families. Investing in an estate plan protects someone and the people they love from whatever life may bring, and the sooner someone has those protections in place, the longer they can benefit from the peace of mind that estate planning affords.