Caring.com has been conducting research on an ongoing basis to measure the estate planning preparedness of American adults. Their numbers for 2021 have been released, and as always, they are not encouraging.
Just under 40 percent of adults in the United States have wills or trusts, and the numbers are quite dismal for people that are under the age of 55.
In spite of the lack of preparedness, the survey has found that most of the people that are unprepared know that estate planning is important.
Since procrastination is so common, people often put simple wills in place to cover the basics, but they do not think about anything else. This is a mistake, and we will look at some of the details that are easy to overlook in this post.
Your broader estate plan should definitely include an incapacity preparation component. If you do not prepare for this eventuality, the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf if you become unable to handle your affairs at some point.
This is an important consideration, because Alzheimer’s disease strikes over 30 percent of the oldest old, and it is not the only cause of incapacity.
The incapacity plan should include advance directives for health care, and one of them is a living will. This type of will is used to state your life-support utilization choices. You can also address comfort care medication and organ and tissue donation preferences.
A durable power of attorney for health care should be added to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf that are not related to life-support utilization.
From a financial perspective, you should include a durable power of attorney for property. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to assume the role in the event of your incapacity.
Letter of Last Instructions
You should consider the estate administration phase when you are planning your estate. The executor that you name in the document would be the administrator if you state your final wishes in a will, and the administrator of a trust is the trustee.
Your representative will need some information to be able to complete their tasks, you can share it in a letter of last instructions. The letter can include contact information for people that should be notified about your passing along with the location of relevant documents.
Login information for the accounts that you manager online should be addressed, and this would include social media accounts, blogs, and websites along with financial accounts. You should provide the location of physical property and all the necessary keys and/or access codes.
These are a handful of things to think about, but you simply apply common sense when you are composing this letter.
Successor Beneficiary Designations
When you are creating your estate plan, you are obviously going to name beneficiaries. In addition to your will or trust, this may also apply to individual retirement accounts and insurance policies.
You should make sure that you add successor beneficiaries that would assume the respective roles if something happens to the primary beneficiary. If you do not take this step, a complicated and potentially contentious situation can arise if the named beneficiary passes away.
Access Our Free Worksheet!
We update this blog on an ongoing basis, so you can always build on your knowledge if you come back and visit us, and this is not our only resource. You will find many different written materials on this site that you can access free of charge.
One of them is our estate planning worksheet. It has been carefully prepared to give you a better understanding of this important process, and it is being offered free of charge.
To get your copy, visit our worksheet access page and follow the simple instructions.
Need Help Now?
If you have already learned enough to know that you should work with a Cincinnati estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place, there is no time like the present.
You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 513-721-1513.