When it comes to age and estate planning, what you often hear is that people believe they are too young. They imagine doing their estate planning when they’re elderly, perhaps long after they retire.
But could this work the other way around? Could you be too old to make an estate plan?
You can never be too old or too young
The fact of the matter is that you can be any age and make an estate plan. You can’t be too old, just as you can’t be too young. Even if you’re already beyond life expectancy — perhaps you’re fortunate enough to be in your 80s or 90s when you started thinking about this — it’s not too late to make a plan if you do not already have one.
It is better to make one earlier in life, however. By the time your family needs to use the plan, you want it to have been in place for a long time.
Part of this is just realistic. Life changes. You want to update the plan to match. It can take time to carefully consider everything. The sooner you do this, the better. You can always update it later if you change your mind, so there’s no reason to wait.
Part of it is also due to the validity of the plan, though. If you wait until you are diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease, for instance, are your heirs going to challenge the plan? Are they going to argue that you lack the mental fortitude to make that plan or that they’re not sure it reflects what you really would have wanted?
These are real challenges and questions that people raise, and there are cases where courts side with them. To avoid it, making an estate plan while you are young and healthy demonstrates that you are clearly of sound mind and that the plan is exactly what you want.
Do you still need a plan?
Again, though, if you’re already beyond this young age, that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance. You absolutely can still make an estate plan. Be sure you know exactly what steps you’ll need to take.