Most of us are hard-wired to avoid situations that might lead to our death. While some thrive on sky diving or swimming with sharks, death is something most of us prefer to avoid.
Unfortunately, trying to ignore our own mortality can wreak havoc for our loved ones. That is, if we don’t take the time to have a will and an estate plan properly prepared, as detailed in The Rivard Report’s article, “Why Everyone Needs a Will.”
A recent survey found that just 36% of adults with young children have a will. The national average of adults with a will isn’t much better. In fact, just 42% of all adults have estate planning documents, like a will or living trust. Half of those surveyed who didn’t have a will, said they just “had not yet gotten around to it.”
Those without a will need to rely on state intestacy laws to dispose of their assets. However, this is about being thoughtful rather than just financial planning or wealth distribution. It’s for your family that you need to plan ahead and create a will. This can reduce the stress and anxiety, when it’s time to settle your affairs.
Estate planning isn’t just for those with substantial assets. Wills deal with the distribution of your estate, but they also can provide contain other detailed instructions for other important topics. Work with a qualified estate planning attorney to draft your will to be certain that the will, witness requirements, and its execution comply with state law. Tell your attorney the specifics of how you want your estate to be distributed. If you have children under age 18 when you die, you should designate a guardian for their care.
You also need to carefully consider who you select as your executor. This person needs to be comfortable with adhering to the instructions in your will. They must also be able to work with your banking and insurance accounts, as well as your debts.
A will can also be used to state any posthumous gifts and donations to charities. Gifts up to a certain amount can be excluded from estate taxes, so there are some tax benefits for incorporating charitable gifting into your will.
Having a will and all of the documents that make up an estate plan prepared with the assistance of an estate planning attorney, can alleviate a great deal of stress for your family.
Are you one of those folks who like living on the edge? That’s fine—just make sure your estate plan is in place!
Reference: Rivard Report (July 31, 2017) “Why Everyone Needs a Will”