The popular website Caring.com has been conducting surveys over recent years to gauge the estate planning preparedness of American adults. They are finding that fewer and fewer people have estate plans in place.
According to their 2020 results, 32 percent of people in the United States have a will or a trust. In 2017, the number was 42 percent, so this is a significant decrease.
As you might imagine, the unpreparedness is greater among lower age groups. Just over 16 percent of people between 18 and 34 years old have plans, and just 27.2 percent of those between 35 and 54.
Approximately 48 percent of people 55 years of age and older have taken care of this basic responsibility.
Families Are Vulnerable
All responsible adults should have estate plans in place, and it becomes an absolute must when there are people relying on you. The lack of preparation among people in the 35 to 54 age group is not acceptable.
Individuals in their 30s and 40s often have dependent children still in their homes, and most families rely on two incomes. The sudden loss of a parent would be devastating to the family emotionally, and the financial fallout can make a horrible situation much worse.
An income replacement vehicle should be part of the plan, and life insurance can be the solution.
There are estate planning steps that can empower an adult to manage funds on behalf of dependent children if it becomes necessary.
People with younger children should nominate a guardian to take care of the youngsters if the unthinkable takes place.
A well-rounded estate plan will include incapacity planning. With a living will, you can specify your intentions regarding life support.
To account for health care decisions not involving utilization of life support, you should have a durable power of attorney for health care in which you name someone to act as your representative for medical decision-making.
You should have a durable power of attorney for property that names someone to act as your financial representative if you become incapacitated.
HIPAA and Very Young Adults
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 and has continued to expand since its creation. It protects patient privacy and prevents doctors from communicating medical information to anyone other than the patient.
This applies to family members, so when you create your incapacity plan, you should include a HIPAA release that gives those named the ability to speak freely with your physicians.
Along these lines, your children become adults in the eyes the law when they reach 18. Parents are well aware of this with regard to some matters, but may never think about it when it comes to the HIPAA implications. Your young adult child should definitely sign one of these forms to give you access to their medical information.
Take Action Today!
If you are on the wrong side of the estate planning preparedness statistics, it is time to put procrastination behind you.
We know it can be difficult to discuss personal matters with someone you have just met. This is understandable, but you can rest assured we have the discretion and ability to make our clients feel comfortable from the start.
You can schedule a consultation appointment in Oklahoma City if you call us 405-843-6100. Our office in Overland Park, Kansas can be reached at 913-385-9400, and you can fill out our contact form if you would like to send us a message.