Am I too young (or too old) to plan my estate?


Perhaps you think the idea of estate planning does not apply to you yet. You are too young, and you do not have much in the way of assets.

Or, perhaps you fear the ship has passed you by. A startling percentage of people in their 50s, 60s, and beyond either have not completed an estate plan or have one that needs to be updated. Is it too late to catch up?

For both groups, there is good news, according to Katharine Tate of Liberty Lake’s Tate Law Offices.

“It is never too early or too late to plan your estate,” she said. “In fact, there are aspects of this that a teenager should look into immediately upon turning 18.”

At 18, parents no longer have authority to make healthcare or financial decisions for their children. That is where a power of attorney and medical directive come in, Tate said. These documents help specify the actions that should be taken regarding your health if you are not able to make those decisions, and the power of attorney specifies the person to make decisions for you when you cannot.

Maybe that is a parent, although Tate said she has seen cases where young adults choose others for religious or personal reasons.

“If there is an accident or some situation that makes you disabled or incapacitated, you want to be able to know that the person you want making those decisions for you is in fact the person making those decisions,” she said. “Do not leave it up to the court to decide or leave it up to the family to fight over who gets to make those decisions.”

Of course, the need to plan for the future only grows with time and assets, but Tate said planning not only creates peace of mind, it saves money versus having to deal with unforeseen events in real time.

“I like to say it is better to spend a chunk of money now so you know exactly what will happen, then have to wait until something happens and have to spend several chunks of money down the road when you may not have the money available,” she said.

At Tate Law Offices, clients schedule a free initial appointment to talk through their specific situation. From there, Tate makes recommendations, and the client provides input for a plan of action. At that point, documents are drafted and reviewed by the client, any changes are made, and a final signing takes place. Tate said the whole process for a simple estate typically takes two to three weeks, although it can take longer for more complicated estates.

Tate said she loves working with clients of all ages, whether a medical directive for a 20-something or helping a senior understand Medicaid and walk through asset planning.

“I just like to help clients plan for their future and for their family’s future, making sure everything is allocated for,” she said. “Together, we put everything in its place so that when the time comes — as it does for everybody — it is all right there and easy to access, making things as painless as possible for everyone.”

NOTE: A version of this article first appeared in the 2020 Liberty Lake Yearbook.

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