The statistics are alarming. Nearly two out of every three Americans have failed to create a will, and many of them aren’t the least bit concerned about it. For some it’s a matter of procrastination. Others think they don’t need one because they don’t have any significant holdings. Still others just feel uncomfortable with the whole topic of death, and would rather not talk about it at all. The problem is that not addressing a topic doesn’t make it disappear – and can make matters a whole lot worse. If you are among the 64% of Americans making this crucial estate planning mistake, there are a number of points for you to consider – and possibly reconsider – on your current path.
The first thing you need to know is what happens if you die without a will or an estate plan. When you die “intestate” you cheat yourself of the ability to have a voice in how your estate will be handled, including directing specific funds to go to a favorite charity, or to be set aside to pay for a grandchild’s college or care. The funds in your retirement account will automatically be distributed to the person you designated as beneficiary at the time that it was set up, whether that’s who you’d have chosen today or not. There’s a strong possibility that your heirs will be burdened with taxes that they would not have been required to pay had you planned ahead – and one way or another they are likely to be tied up in bureaucratic red tape that having a will would have prevented.
No matter how large or small your personal holdings, going through a methodical estate planning process will eliminate many concerns and questions and help you to prevent unexpected outcomes. At Bratton Scott, our experienced estate planning attorneys will not only help you to make a living will and health care power of attorney to address your wishes for care, but will also appoint an executor or administrator for your estate, help you consider funeral arrangements and legacy planning, and stay on top of important changes in your personal life. Your beneficiaries will be updated to reflect marriages and divorces, the births of children, grandchildren and more. An estate planner can even help you with issues that most people wouldn’t think of, including assigning a digital executor to manage online accounts, passwords, social media accounts and more.
No matter what your age or financial position, planning for your future should go far beyond your plans for retirement. Estate planning should address three major issues: your property and assets; your children or others for whom you want to provide a financial benefit; and your future medical needs. Thinking about these topics may initially make you uncomfortable, but once you begin the conversation, you will realize that it’s an important issue that you don’t want to ignore. To speak with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, contact Bratton Scott today.