Congress has designated the third week in October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week (October 20-26, 2018).
It is estimated that at least 60% of Americans do not have an estate plan. Most people think that only older adults need to have an estate plan. However, it’s important for younger people to have a Will, especially if they have minor children. A proper estate plan will provide for a guardian for your minor children to ensure that they’ll be cared for by the people you want as guardians in the event of your death or incapacity. Yet, based on a recent AARP survey, 78% of people age 18-36 and 64% of people age 37-52 do not have a will.
Without an estate plan such as a Will or Trust, when you pass away, your affairs will be settled pursuant to the intestate laws of the state where you reside. The intestacy laws may not provide that your assets go to the people you want to receive your property. In fact, depending on the size of your estate and how your assets are held, your spouse may not receive the entire estate. It is especially important to have an estate plan if you have a blended family, especially if you want to provide for your children from a prior marriage.
If you don't have an up-to-date estate plan, including durable powers of attorney, and you are unable to manage your financial affairs due to incapacity, the courts will appoint someone to manage them for you. If you have not designated the individual that you would like to be your agent, the court may appoint someone that you would not want to perform those responsibilities.
A good estate plan starts with a planning meeting with your attorney and proper drafting and signing of appropriate legal documents such as wills, trusts, financial durable powers of attorney and a health-care power of attorney. Having a properly designed estate plan will help your family get through a very difficult and emotional time.
If you would like to discuss your estate plan, please contact an attorney in our office. The attorneys at Parnell, Michels & McKay have the experience necessary to design an estate plan to achieve each client’s goals and needs.