Personal responsibility goes a long way, and while it is true that genuine “hard luck” stories exist, the reality is that with respect to estate planning and protecting your family you make your own luck. Going along with blinders on, living in the moment without making any advance plans, and hoping for the best is an exercise in inviting what some people like to call bad luck.
Perhaps intelligently and pragmatically devising a plan for the future and staying the course by demonstrating self-discipline is the way that “lucky” people rub the proverbial rabbit’s foot.
Along these lines there was an interesting survey conducted by the Harris organization a while back that was intended to get a feel for how prepared people are for the future. They spoke to 1,022 different American adults, and only 35% of them said they had a last will in place to direct the transfer of their assets to their loved ones. Just 29% of them had executed a living will stating their preferences regarding medical procedures that they would accept or deny should they fall into an incapacitated state.
As you would probably expect, younger people were less likely to have an estate plan in place than those who are older. Only 24% of the people surveyed who were less than 35 years of age had executed one or more estate planning documents. Among people 55 years of age and up that number rose to 77%. But still, that leaves 23% of people who have reached their mid-50s and above completely unprepared.
As for incapacity planning, less than half of people surveyed (48%) who were 65 years of age and older had a financial power of attorney in place designating a decision-maker to handle their financial affairs should they become unable to do so.
This survey indicates that there are a lot of “unlucky” people out there. If you are currently one of them, it may be time to change your luck and arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday