“When is it Too Late to Create an Estate Plan?” by Attorney Jon J. Gasior (Audio)
You may be considering exploring estate planning options for either yourself or your family, and you may even be wondering if you waited too late to create an estate plan.
The answer to that question generally is no. However, there are some exceptions. The Maryland law states that “any person may make a will if he is 18 years of age or older, and is legally competent to make a will”.
This basically means that any competent adult over the age of 18 can create a will. However, most people tend to procrastinate when it comes to creating their estate plan. Estate planning can be an extremely difficult topic for many people. They must face their own death, and disability, and consider what life will be like for their loved ones once they are gone. These are not necessarily pleasant topics for most people. And since the end result of your estate planning will happen after you pass, you will never see how that planning gets carried out, making it that much easier to ignore. So even though you need only be 18 to create a will, many people well into their 60s and 70s have no planning at all. In fact, I have met clients in their 90s who are just beginning to address their estate plans. This then begs the question, is there ever a time at which it is too late to create an estate plan? To that client in their 90s, it is not too late. In fact, often some planning is better than none. However, the big caveat to the idea is that the person creating the plan must be competent.
Competency is loosely determined by whether or not the person that is creating the will has a general understanding of their assets, can identify their family, and then can articulate how they would want those assets distributed upon death. If the person cannot articulate answers to these questions they may not be competent to create an estate plan whether they are 19 or 99. The answer then would be that is it never too late to create an estate plan, provided you are competent to do so.
Far too often I will receive calls from frantic family members that a loved one has developed a degenerative condition by which they are no longer able to make decisions, and they would like to explore their estate planning options. By this point, it may be too late to create that plan.
If you have been procrastinating and have put off creating your estate plan, contact an estate planning attorney today to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the way that you would want them to be.
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