12 Jan Top Ten Reasons to Get Around to Estate Planning Now
Posted at 17:12h in Tulsa Probate Lawyer Blog
It’s not anyone’s favorite topic, but everyone needs to think about it. That topic is death, specifically our own death. However, research shows that it may be our favorite topic to avoid.
Less than half of American adults have a Last Will & Testament.
According to a survey published on Caring.com, “only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. For those with children under the age of 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having an end-of-life-plan in place.”
The study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International asked over 1,000 adults whether they had estate planning documents in place, and if not, why not.
47 percent of people without end-of-life plans said, “I just haven’t gotten around to it.” This isn’t a surprise to experts, who say both fear and procrastination often contribute to the avoidance of the topic.
So if only 4 out of 10 U.S. adults have a plan, we obviously need the motivation to get around to this difficult but important task.
Here are our Top Ten Reasons to Get Around to Estate Planning Now
1. You decide how your belongings will be distributed.
A Will or a Trust are both legally binding documents that allow you to determine what happens to your estate after you die. Without them, there are no guarantees.
2. You decide who will care for your minor children.
An important part of end-of-life planning is for you to make an informed decision about the care of your minor children. A Will allows you to designate who will, and often more importantly, who will not take care of your children after you die. Otherwise, the courts will choose between family members or even appoint a guardian themselves.
3. You designate beneficiaries with blended families.
Estate planning is especially important for unmarried couples and blended families. State law awards assets to biological relatives if there is no Will, an unmarried partner will be shut out. Blended families may want to split assets between current spouses and children of previous marriages, or they may not. “There’s always a way to find a way” to have the assets flow the way you want if you plan it in advance.
4. You minimize estate taxes.
When it’s time to pay estate taxes, your gifts to charity and family members will reduce the value of your estate, and minimize estate taxes,
5. You decide who handles your estate.
An executor makes sure your affairs are in order, pays off bills, cancels credit cards, and notifies banks and other businesses. The best person for this will be someone organized and trustworthy and perhaps someone outside your family since this person plays the most important role in the administration of your estate.
6. You can choose to disinherit specific individuals.
Many people don’t realize that a will allows you to make sure that certain individuals don’t receive anything. A Will specifically outlines how to distribute everything. Without a Will, part or all of your estate may end up in the hands of someone you do not wish to inherit, such as an ex-spouse or estranged relative.
7. You can make gifts and donations.
Many of us have an organization such as a church, school, or charity to whom we’d like to contribute after our death. A Will allows you to designate that entity, leaving a legacy that reflects your personal values and interests. Also, gifts up to $15,000 are excluded from the estate tax, so those gifts actually increase the value of what your heirs and beneficiaries will receive.
8. You avoid greater legal challenges.
Estate planning greatly simplifies things for your family. Without it, your estate may pass to someone you do not intend, and prolonged, costly legal processes may result for your family.
9. You can change your mind if circumstances change.
Procrastinating about end-of-life planning doesn’t make sense because as life circumstances change, your Will can change with it. You can be prepared and provide for your family at every stage of life.
10. Because you are not promised tomorrow.
One of the greatest things you can do for your family is to plan for the eventuality of your untimely death. As difficult as it is to think and talk about, it could happen at any moment. End-of-Life planning is actually much easier than you may think, and as you can see, will save your loved ones stress, anxiety, and uncertainty during the repercussions of your death.
At Gary Crews Law in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we specialize in all aspects of Estate and End-of-Life Planning. Call (918) 493-3360 today for your free consultation with one of our friendly, professional staff! We are here to help!