Estate Planning Tips for Your 30s, 40s and 50s

Estate planning is an essential component in a healthy financial portfolio. While it may not be the most enjoyable subject to discuss, it’s vital to start a conversation around how your estate will be handled after you’re gone. After all, we’re all going to pass on one day. Having a secure estate plan in place will ensure your family and beneficiaries are adequately protected.

This article highlights estate planning tips in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Each of these milestone decades comes with different goals and life challenges, and your estate plan should adjust accordingly.

Estate Planning in Your 30s

For many people, their 30s are the years when both their professional and personal lives will change dramatically. From securing higher paying positions to raising a family, your 30s are a prime time in your life. Because of these changes, they’re also prime years to begin considering your estate plan.

The following are estate planning recommendations for those in their 30s:

  • Create a will or trust: Creating a will or living trust in your 30s ensures your assets, like your home and investments, are handled in a way that aligns with your wishes should something happen to you.

    Along with planning how your assets will be handled, it’s imperative to consider who will get guardianship over your children. It’s difficult and unpleasant to think about, but your children’s future needs to be protected in case the unthinkable happens. Creating a will that specifically assigns guardianship over your children will ensure they are raised and cared for in a manner that you believe is best. (For related reading, see: Advanced Estate Planning: Child Care Documents.)

  • Life insurance: Another suggested step is to secure life insurance in your 30s. Life insurance protects your family financially should you or your spouse die unexpectedly. This is especially important If your family depends on one spouse’s income to cover financial obligations.

Estate Planning in Your 40s

Now that you’ve reached your 40s, you may be taking on more responsibility at work, your family may be getting older and your children may have different responsibilities of their own. In this decade of your life it’s important to start ensuring your estate plan covers everything you’ve worked so hard to earn. Along with following the recommendations for your 30s, people in their 40s should consider the following estate planning areas:

  • Consolidating employee benefit plans: Now that you’ve reached your 40s, it’s likely you’ve worked at multiple organizations and have several types of retirement plans, investment options and other asset accounts—investment vehicles like 401(k) plans, IRAs, savings accounts, stock options, bonds, property, etc. It’s important that each of these is adequately handled with appropriate instructions for beneficiaries.
  • Consider long-term care insurance: You may want to start considering long-term care insurance. Such insurance provides for the costs of at-home care and/or nursing home care should you need them. Alternately, you may decide your financial investments have adequately anticipated such costs. Either way, it’s important to begin planning now to ensure you’re financially secure in your golden years. (For related reading, see: Long-Term Care: More Than Just a Nursing Home.)

Estate Planning in Your 50s

Many people just begin considering their estate plans in their 50s. Those who start at an earlier age will find themselves ahead of the game. Your 50s are an important time to begin solidifying your estate plan, adjusting when needed and sharing your plans with trusted representatives or advisors.

  • Create a list of trusted advisors. It’s important to put together a list of trusted advisors, including your financial advisor, attorney, tax professional and power of attorney agent. Be sure to coordinate with each of the responsible parties to handle your affairs when you pass on.
  • Keep your plan up-to-date. Ideally, in your 50s you have the essential estate plan items like a will or trust, designated beneficiaries and trusted advisors in place already. At this point, you need to ensure your plan is up-to-date and that it reflects your current situation. Perhaps your children have graduated college now or a family member is facing changing health. Does your current estate plan reflect this? We recommend reevaluating your estate plan at least once a year. (For related reading, see: 4 Reasons Estate Planning Is so Important.)