As a young father, you’re doing your best to raise happy kids who you hope will turn out to be productive, culturally-sensitive, and law-abiding adults. But are you ignoring one essential fatherly duty? Have you put your affairs in order? What would happen to your family if you were to disappear from the face of the earth tonight, forever?
I’m 35! Affairs Make Me Think of Tinder!
When you’re 35, the word “affairs” probably makes you think of Tinder and not legal documentation. Don’t elderly people put their affairs in order?
Putting your affairs in order is nothing more than planning ahead of time and making some important decisions that will affect your family should something unforeseen happen to you, which is why it’s important to do at any age, especially for parents. And whenever there are changes in your family, such as a new relationship that results in a blended family, it’s a good idea to review your arrangements and ensure they reflect your wishes, says Carrie S. Schultz, Esq., who practices family law in New Jersey.
Putting Your Affairs in Order
- Put all important papers in one place in a fireproof box at home or a safe deposit box at the bank and tell a family member where to find them
- Make a list of your lawyer, bank, doctor, investment firm, and insurance company
- Add names of family members to your checking account and safety deposit box
- Review beneficiary designations and ensure they are updated (you don’t want your ex-wife getting your beach house)
- Make sure your doctors have permission to speak to a family member about your health and insurance claims
- Make a will (even if you don’t have a Zuckerburg-sized estate to leave your children)
- Make a living will (advance directives) to outline the type of care you wish to receive should you become too sick to decide
- Discuss a durable power of attorney or general power of attorney with a lawyer
- Talk to a financial advisor about setting up a trust for your children
- Get life insurance (a good rule of thumb is 10 times your annual salary)
- Save for your kids’ college education (that vacation to Hawaii can wait)
What Do These Important Documents Do?
A will spells out how you want your financial affairs handled. This is particularly important if you have children. Your will should name the person who will be guardian to any kids under age 18.
A trust is not only for the Trumps of this world. You probably need one if you’re worth more than 1 million dollars. Again, this is a good idea if you have minor children who cannot manage their inheritance.
A power of attorney authorizes a trusted person to handle matters if you are not able to do so yourself. This can range from writing checks to making healthcare decisions for you.
Don’t like the idea of being hooked up to a respirator or feeding tube for decades? An advance directive lays out end-of-life preferences.
Click here for more detailed information about putting your affairs in order at any age. No one (except perhaps an estate lawyer) likes to think about estate planning. But nobody ever plans to become sick. And death doesn’t come with an appointment. In an emergency, it’s this kind of planning that will make a tough situation a little easier for your family.