There are so many reasons to procrastinate on an estate plan. It’s not particularly fun to think about getting older or not being able to make decisions for yourself. Most of us expect to live long and happy lives, so we don’t feel a time crunch to get an estate plan developed sooner rather than later. And those of us who do put off the planning are in good company. Only approximately 40% of Americans have a will, yet 76% report that having an estate plan is important.
So where to begin? Start by asking yourself two quick questions:
- Who do you love?
- What do you own?
Knowing the answer to those questions will give you a jumping off point for a plan. For instance, if one of the people you love is your spouse, you likely have a strong contender for an agent to be named under your Power of Attorney. If other people you love include minor children, start thinking about who you would want to take care of them in the event of your death or incapacity. If people you love have special needs, start thinking about how you may want to use your assets to provide for their long-term care or to enrich their lives.
Next, think about what you own. The good news is that the current estate tax threshold is high – $11.4M for individuals – so fewer families need to worry about strategies to avoid it. Additionally, a number of assets – such as retirement funds and life insurance – are not governed by the probate process. Those assets transfer to beneficiaries already named in a designation form. That said, the transfer of any asset – regardless of how it is characterized – should not be considered in a vacuum.
Finally, think about yourself. If you required long-term care, do you have a plan in place to pay for it? Do you have a preference as to how you would like to receive that care? A comprehensive estate plan will not only determine who receives your assets upon death, it will help answer tricky questions prior to death, such as how you will pay for long-term care or who will make decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself.
Contact Balmos Law today to start your plan, and to provide your loved ones with peace of mind.
More information on the 2019 survey: https://www.caring.com/caregivers/estate-planning/wills-survey/