According to a report by Caring.com, only 32 percent of Americans have a will. Many people believe that estate planning is only for “older” adults or the very wealthy. Others find the entire subject unpleasant and put it off for as long as possible.
In reality, everyone can benefit from a basic estate plan. Creating a few essential documents can be valuable – not only for you, but for your loved ones. Now, when the future of our health and our finances seems impossible to predict, is a better time than ever to think about creating an estate plan.
Why plan for the future?
You may not know what the future holds, but you can make critical decisions to protect yourself and the people you love. An estate plan allows you to:
- Make important medical decisions – Many people have strong feelings about their medical care towards the end of life, including what life-prolonging procedures they may wish to use or avoid. An advanced health care directive (sometimes called a living will) allows you to make those decisions or appoint someone you trust to make them should you become incapacitated.
- Choose a guardian – A top priority for many parents is articulating their wishes about who will care for their children should the unexpected happen.
- Provide for loved ones – A will and trust can allow you to decide where your assets will go after your death. In addition to leaving assets to your family or close friends, you may wish to set up a special needs trust to ensure a vulnerable loved one is cared for into the future.
- Support meaningful organizations – Some estate planners choose to set aside assets for a charity, alma mater or other cause that aligns with their values.
After setting up an estate plan, many people are surprised and pleased by the peace of mind it provides. Not only have they taken steps to protect themselves, but they have given their loved ones a great gift. If the unexpected happens, those left behind will take comfort in knowing they are following the decedent’s wishes.
While most Americans believe estate planning is a confusing process, you do not have to navigate it alone. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through and help you ensure your wishes are followed.