New Year’s Eve is upon us, and 2020 is right around the corner. As 2019 draws to a close, many of us are making our resolutions for the new year. For most Americans, that means planning to exercise more, lose weight, and save money. All of these are excellent resolutions that will improve your life. But even as you plan on improving your health and taking better care of your bank account, you should consider a resolution that will improve your family’s life – planning your estate.
Estate planning includes the creation of three essential legal documents. First is the will, which lays out your wishes after your death and names an executor, who will carry out those wishes. Then, there is the power of attorney, a document that grants someone else authority to manage your affairs. Finally, there is the advance health care directive, which states your wishes for medical treatment, if you are terminally ill and allows someone else to carry out those wishes with your health care provider.
Planning your estate is one of the best things you can do for your family. According to a 2019 survey, 76% of Americans agreed with this sentiment… and yet only 40% actually have a will. Of those polled, the majority of people who did have an estate plan in place were older adults, while younger people put less importance on an estate plan. Another study indicates only 18% of people over 55 have all of the recommended estate planning essentials– a will, a power of attorney, and an advance health care directive.
There are many reasons Americans put off planning their estate. Most people, especially younger people, do not like having to think about their own mortality. Many people believe that wills are only for wealthy people with considerable assets to distribute, not someone living paycheck to paycheck. Others are intimidated by the estate-planning process and don’t know where to start or believe it’s too expensive.
All of these doubts are understandable, but you cannot let them hold you back. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and you need a plan for if something happens to you. With a will, you can lay out how your assets will be distributed, who will take care of your minor children, and who will administer your estate. Having a will also speeds up the probate process, minimizes probate court costs, and allows you to make posthumous gifts and donations in your name. You need to think about creating one.
You don’t need to be wealthy to have a will either. In fact, everyone needs to have a will, no matter what their financial situation looks like. Even if you die without a significant amount of assets, someone will still have to distribute what you own. Furthermore, everyone’s circumstances change over time. A person with little in their name now might have much more money and property in the future. Since you are free to change your will at any time, you lose nothing by creating one now.
If a person dies without a will, they will have no say in where their assets go. Instead, the deceased person’s assets will be sent to probate court and divided according to state probate laws. Because state law determines who inherits in the absence of a will, part or all of your estate might pass to someone you didn’t intend to inherit it. Without a will, the probate process will also take considerably longer, which can cause needless stress for your loved ones.
Even as you look forwards to 2020, you need to think about what will happen to your assets if something happens to you. You do not want to leave it to the state – you need to put that power in your loved ones’ hands by planning your estate now. Although the process of estate planning might seem complicated and intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see how we can help you create an estate plan and secure a better future for your loved ones.