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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Half of Adult Americans Don't Have A Will

A recent survey of Caring.com reveals that 58% of adults in the U.S. do not have a will or living trust. This percentage shows how adults neglect the importance of estate planning.

If you are part of this population, read on.           

I understand that it is easy to put off end-of-life planning not only for the young, but also for most people who refuse to think about their mortality. However, this kind of thinking prevents you from making decisions that will save your loved ones from additional stress during a time of great grief.

Have you considered setting up a will but never really acted on it?

Caring.com's survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International found out that 47% out of 1,003 adults do not have estate planning documents because they “haven’t gotten around to it.”

Procrastination is a common hindrance to any kind of planning, but once you know the burden and stress that a lack of will or living trust will give to your loved ones, you might reconsider.

I have previously written a blog post "Steps To Take When A Loved One Dies", a long list of to-do’s that will definitely exhaust bereaved family members. You wouldn’t want your loved ones to go through this arduous process while on a grieving period. If you need a bit of a push to start your estate planning, think of your loved ones. Do it for them.

 

Are you hesitant because of the value of your assets? 


Jody Giles, author of “Missing Pieces Plan: Providing You and Your Loved Ones Peace of Mindsays, “Even if you don’t have the wealth of Steve Jobs or Prince, what you do have means something to somebody. Regardless of the amount of ‘wealth’ you are passing on, let it be handed over based on your wishes, not your state’s laws.”

 

Still thinking about it? Here are two more reasons why you should seriously consider starting your estate planning NOW:


If you are a parent, you have to ensure that your child will be given the best care even after you are gone by nominating a guardian for your children. Giles stresses that a will has a critical role for the minor children and all parents need a will, “If for no other reason than the sole purpose of naming guardians.” This isn’t usually a topic that you or your partner would comfortably discuss, but it is imperative. You would want to leave your children under the care of people you trust, and not someone appointed by a judge. 

You need to have a health care power of attorney. Why? Because when there’s medical emergency and you are not able to decide for yourself, you want someone that you trust make the decisions for you. When a child reaches 18 years of age, parents are no longer legally empowered to make medical decisions for their children. In medical emergencies, you may even find it difficult to get updates on your child's condition without an advance health care directive and HIPAA Release.



Ready to take the first step but still have questions? Here are some answers to the questions commonly asked by clients and friends:

 

            Isn’t estate planning too complicated and costly?

 

It depends. The extent and complexity of your financial situation and your personal goals and wishes directly affect the process of estate planning. Simple estate planning usually doesn't cost much, but expect higher expenses when there’s a need to sort out some issues. According to Ashley Case, an Arizona-based tax and estate-planning attorney, “For individuals with modest wealth and straightforward wishes, a simple estate plan can be prepared quickly and inexpensively. Some factors that tend to complicate an estate plan include multiple marriages, children from different relationships, certain business assets, a higher net-worth, and complex wishes regarding distributions.”

 

            Should I get a will or a living trust?

 

            Mark Gilfix, an elderlaw attorney with Gilfix and La Poll Associates, LLP, suggests that you should choose living trust over a will. He discussed in a Caring.com video, Estate Planning: What You Needthe main factors to consider in choosing between a will and a living trust.  

However, Giflix emphasized that having a will is much better than nothing.

 

            How will I start with my estate planning?

 

      Another video of Mark Giflix briefly enumerates these steps to follow:


 

      He mentioned that the first step is to choose a trusted agent (usually chosen from parents, siblings, children and trusted friends). Then the next step would be determining your personal plan for your assets and where you want them to go when you are gone. Lastly, he highlighted the need to work with an expert upfront.  


With this guide, you can be more confident in taking the first few steps in implementing your estate plan. Remember that a help of an expert in this field can save you time and give you peace of mind that your documents have been prepared correctly. This way, you will avoid any possible problems and additional expenses in the future.

 

Russell C. Golowin is an Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney for families in the Columbus, Ohio area.  If you need assistance with wills, trusts and other estate planning documents, call (614) 453-5208 today. Visit his website for more information on estate planning in Columbus, Ohio.


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