The first steps in your estate planning journey are learning 1) how to stay in control of your stuff while you are able to be in control and 2) how to make sure your wishes are carried out when incapacity or the grim reaper catch up with you. Sorry to rub it in, but there is a 100% probability that at least one of these things is going to happen to you and a 70% probability that both of them will.
Your estate plan should reflect your choices about such things as the kind of healthcare you will receive throughout your life, as well as who will enjoy your stuff when you are done with it. The only way to make effective choices about these things is to learn what your choices are.
Choices, Changes & Flexibility
This is a lifelong challenge, because your choices will change as your circumstances change. Your health is going to change — so will your assets, your comfort with your list of designated decision-makers and the laws that affect your estate plan. As things change, you will need to stay on top of the choices you can make in order to be confident that your wishes will be followed at every phase of your life — and beyond.
The Sooner the Better
Let’s say you are thinking about going on an adventure. Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? Are there any better destinations you might want to consider? Is there a better means of getting you there than the one you originally chose?
The only way to know the answers to these questions is to do some research, talk with people who have taken similar trips and better yet, talk with folks who have helped lots of people take all kinds of journeys. It’s kind of like asking for directions.
While I have never regretted asking for directions, I have regretted waiting too long to do so. The sooner you learn about your estate planning options, the sooner you can implement ways to head off problems that are headed your way, even though you don’t know exactly what they are or when they will arrive.