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What events spur people to put an estate plan in place?

Too many people put off developing their estate plan until they're in their senior years. However, many of the people who put some type of estate plan in place in their younger years -- even a simple will -- do so because of an impending life event.

People who are faced with a serious medical diagnosis, like cancer, begin to think about what would happen if they pass away without a will in place. Even if they don't have a dire prognosis, just the scare of a potentially fatal condition can incentivize people to see an estate planning attorney -- particularly if they'll be undergoing one or more surgeries.

Sometimes watching a loved one go through a health crisis or pass away can be the wake-up call a person needs to get their own affairs in order. As older family members die, and people become next in line, as it were, they often begin thinking more and more about their own mortality. If a loved one passed away without an estate plan, you see how difficult, expensive and time-consuming that is for those left behind and probably want to avoid putting loved ones in the same position.

For some people, taking an adventure vacation is enough to get them to draft at least a will. If they die while mountain climbing in Tibet or swimming with sharks, they want to be sure that their belongings will go to the people they want to have them.

For many people, buying their first home is what convinces them that they have assets worth dealing with in an estate plan. For others, it's getting married.

Certainly, becoming a parent is the impetus many people need to put some type of estate plan in place. If you're a parent, having a will is important even if it's just to designate who you want your children's guardian(s) to be and to make sure that there's money set aside for your children if something happens.

Whatever life event prompts you to consider an estate plan, this isn't a process you should rush. Hurrying to put a plan in place during the week before you undergo major surgery, for example, probably isn't wise. A good estate plan takes careful consideration when you're not stressed and afraid. Your estate planning attorney can provide valuable guidance as you do this -- no matter how simple or comprehensive your plans.

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