My pastor of years ago would often remind us that failing to get our spiritual salvation in order could be an eternal mistake with tragic consequences. He would state the succinct truth that “those who fail to plan plan to fail” to point out that we are responsible to attend to those matters before it is too late. The same axiom applies to estate planning.
A recent issue of the Journal of Financial Planning contained some pertinent statistics. According to a Caring.com survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults have estate planning documents in place. Fifty-two percent of adults have not made a will, and 57 percent of those said they “just haven’t gotten around to making one.” Only 28 percent of those surveyed by BMO Wealth Management knew their parents’ legacy wishes.
With a will, you can direct who will receive your assets and how they will own those assets after your death; without a will, state law may leave those assets to persons you do not favor. With a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive, your financial and medical affairs and decision-making can be carried out by those you trust if you become incapacitated by an illness or injury; without those powers of attorney, your finances may get locked down and your medical care may become stalled until a court gives authority to a guardian or conservator. With a trust, you can provide financial support for young beneficiaries and family members with disabilities while protecting them from creditors and predators.
As a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), I encourage you to check out two recent ACTEC Family Estate Planning Guide videos: Advance Medical Directives and Getting Your Affairs in Order-Essential Legal Documents. These and other resources found on that ACTEC site provide relevant information about legal documents Americans should have in place, both for emergencies like COVID-19 and for general family support and welfare.
In addition to having the documents prepared to assure smooth transition of your financial and support resources, an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can make sure your insurance and retirement accounts beneficiaries are designated properly to save taxes and prevent chaos and conflict later on. Don’t plan to fail. Call us today at 601-987-3000 to get your plans in order.