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Readers of our blog know that we stress the importance of starting your estate plans early and updating them as often as possible.  That’s because, no matter what stage of life you’re at, you’ll want to have the stability and financial cushioning most aspects of estate planning can offer.

But knowing what to do and in what stage of life can often times be a tricky thing.  So, to clear up a little of the confusion for our readers this week, we wanted to go over the commonly considered ‘8 stages of life’ and the specific estate planning measures that should be taken in each one.

Let’s start with the first stage which is your young and single years.  While most of your assets were taken care of when you were younger, after 18 financial responsibility sort of gets thrust upon you.  Assigning power of attorney and putting together a living will are probably the two most important things you can do at this time.

Grouping stages two through four cover the time between pre-marital relationship and ‘just married.’  During this time it will be important to change power of attorney to your spouse if desired and make sure that they are also included in your living will. This will also be the time to discuss combining assets, health insurance coverage, and getting a mortgage for your first home.

Stage five brings you into parenthood with a little one on the way.  It’s at this stage that you’ll want to not only start saving for your child’s future but thinking about guardianships in the event you and your spouse pass enexpectedly.

Because divorce is a very real possibility after gauging the most recent U.S. statistics, we’re including stage six which is divorce.  This is the stage in life where you may want to remove your ex-spouse from your financial accounts and will need to go through the sometimes painful process of dividing your assets.

In the last two stages is where you may want to invest in long-term care insurance and transferring power of attorney over to your children.  Most experts suggest that this be done before your health begins to fail so as to avoid incurring large medical costs that can eat away your retirement funds.

As you can see, estate planning often requires changes over time; but with a heads up you can make sure that you’re on top of the ball the entire way.

Source:, “8 life stages of estate planning,” G.M. Filisko