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Estate planning: not just for end of life

While estate planning is often associated with late life decisions -- and is, in most cases, about the decisions that occur during late life and after life -- it is not only for those who are in their last years. In fact, estate planning is important throughout life, because you never know what tomorrow will bring to you and your family. Bankrate identifies several stages in life that are appropriate for estate planning.

First, Bankrate talks about the years when someone is young and single. Without kids, younger people tend to have less obligations and fewer assets, which makes planning for estate issues more simple. Bankrate suggests some basic estate-planning tools for this stage of life, including a power of attorney and heallth care proxy so your wishes regarding end of life care are followed should something happen.

Next stages identified for planning include being in a committed relationship, getting engaged and getting married. All of these might prompt you to change some details in your estate plan, such as who would benefit from life insurance or other assets. Since relationships can change, though, you should remember to make appropriate changes to estate plans as you go through these life stages.

When children enter the picture, estate planning can help you provide for them regardless of your circumstances. As children enter your life via birth, marriage, adoption or other means, updating estate documents ensures everyone is treated as fairly as possible should something happen to you.

Other times when you might want to consider updating estate plans include divorce or if you are widowed. Finally, estate planning becomes a more consistent concern during retirement, when you might adjust your plans to provide for yourself during later years, provide for your heirs and ensure your wishes are made known.

Source: BankRate, "8 life stages of estate planning," G. M. Filisko, accessed Sep. 11, 2015

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