Caring.com has been conducting surveys on an annual basis to measure estate planning tendencies. They have found that preparedness has been going down over the last few years.
Overall, 32 percent of the people they polled in 2020 have estate plans in place. In 2017, the figure was 42 percent, and the lack of preparedness is not confined to younger adults.
Just over 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 35 and 54 have wills or trusts, and 52.1 percent of individuals that are 55 years of age and older are completely unprepared.
A surprising twist is the fact that most of the respondents stated that they felt as though estate planning was important, in spite of the widespread inaction.
One of the reasons why they procrastinate is because they are overwhelmed by the process. They don’t know where to begin, so they are frozen with inaction.
In fairness, there are specific legal steps that must be taken to execute a proper estate plan, and there are different ways to go about it.
This being stated, most people do not know how to perform dental procedures. At the same time, they know that it is very easy to make an appointment to see a dentist. You can apply the same logic to the estate planning process.
If you make a simple phone call to schedule an estate planning consultation, you are taking the first step toward a properly constructed plan. The right approach will depend upon the circumstances, but there is a basic framework that applies to everyone.
Your estate plan will include the execution of a document that will facilitate asset transfers after you are gone. A simple will is a possibility, but it is not the best choice unless the situation is extremely simple and straightforward.
There are significant advantages to be gained if you use a living trust as your primary vehicle of asset transfer. A lot of people immediately turn away from this prospect because they assume that you lose control of assets that you convey into a trust, but this is not the case.
You would act as the trustee if you establish a living trust, and you would retain the right of revocation. Your ability to use your assets as you see fit would not change at all, even though the trust would technically be the owner of the resources.
In the trust declaration, you would name a trustee to assume the role after your passing, and your heirs would be the beneficiaries of the trust. You can include a spendthrift provision that would provide asset protection, and you can dictate the distribution terms.
The inheritances would be distributed after your passing outside of probate. This is a costly and time-consuming legal process, so probate avoidance is another major advantage.
This is one of many different types of trusts that can be utilized. When you work with us, we will gain an understanding of your situation and your legacy goals and make the appropriate recommendations.
In addition to the financial part of the equation, you should address end-of-life eventualities. You can state your preferences with regard to the utilization of artificial life support in a living will.
To account for medical decision-making that is not related to life support, you can add a durable power of attorney for health care. The agent that you name would be able to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to communicate them yourself.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 to protect patient privacy. A provision contained within it prevents doctors from communicating medical information with anyone other than the patient.
With this in mind, your plan should include a HIPAA release that would give your health care agent the ability to speak freely with your doctors.
If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity. A durable power of attorney for property can be added to account for the management of assets that are not held by a trust.
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We are here to help if you are ready to establish a custom crafted plan that ideally suits your needs.
You can reach our Oklahoma City office at 405-843-6100, and the number in Overland Park, Kansas is 913-385-9400. If you would prefer to send us a message, fill out our contact form and we will get back in touch with you promptly.
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