Statistics show that 7 in 10 people in the US do not have an estate plan in place.
Perhaps people do not like to think about death. Maybe they just don’t understand what estate planning is all about. Or it could be that it’s just not something people make time for. Regardless of the reason, this is a troubling figure given how important it is to make decisions for yourself, your family and your assets before you are no longer able to on your own.
This week estate planning attorney Cheryl David provided great information about estate planning during our Ask a Lawyer 101 online seminar. She covered – in simple terms – topics including Wills vs. Trusts, Durable Power of Attorney for Property and Healthcare and the Living Will.
If you are one of the few people who already has a plan in place – great. If not, see if you fit within one of the categories below. You may want to make the time to meet with an attorney to talk about estate planning.
Once you turn 18 the authority your guardians had previously will change under the law. If you just turned 18 you may not have very many of your own assets; however you still need to have the proper legal documents in place, such as a signed healthcare power of attorney and living will, in the event something unexpected happens to you.
As a parent, one of the most important decisions you can make is who will be the guardian of your children in the event you and your spouse pass away. Having this in place in advance can avoid any legal custody issues later on. It’s also important to name trustees to keep the court from tying up your assets for many years.
If your children are grown and out of the house, you will most likely need to make changes to your will that reflect the roles and responsibilities they will take on after your death.
-On Your Own:
Similarly, if you are the one who just moved out of the house and are now on your own, it’s a great time to create an estate plan that will reflect your wishes as an individual and that the correct people have been put in place to make important decisions on your behalf.
-Death of a family member
If there has been a death in the family, you may need to make changes to your will, especially if that person was named as a trustee of power of attorney in your own documents.
In addition to these major moments in life, Ms. David also recommends that people revisit their estate plan every 5 years because we all know how often things change in life.