Holidays trigger many different emotions, and Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude. You have received gifts of various kinds throughout your life, and in a real sense, you pay your gratitude forward when you plan your estate.
This is something to think about if you don’t have a plan. If you are unprepared, you are not alone.
Caring.com conducts annual surveys that focus on the estate planning preparedness of American adults, and the results are not encouraging. In 2017, 42 percent of respondents said they had wills or trusts, and the number decreased to 32 percent in 2020.
Just 16.4 percent of young adults that are in the 18 to 34 age group have estate plans, and many in this group are parents with dependent children.
The preparedness figure is 27.2 percent for people that are between the ages of 35 and 54, and it is just under 48 percent for adults that are 55 years of age and older.
Estate planning is one of the core responsibilities of adulthood, and you can show your gratitude this year by taking action to put an estate plan in place.
Estate Planning Basics
The details of an estate plan depend on your circumstances, but the core elements are the same for everyone. If you have a family, you should definitely obtain the appropriate level of life insurance. You should also designate a guardian for dependent children.
An asset transfer vehicle should be part of the plan as well, and a simple will is not always the best choice. There are various types of trusts that provide protection and flexibility, and contrary to popular belief, a trust can be the right choice even if you are not a millionaire.
A revocable living trust can be the ideal alternative to a will for a number of different reasons, and probate avoidance may be at the top of the list.
When a will is used, it must be admitted to probate. This is a time-consuming and costly legal process, and raises privacy concerns because probate records are available to the general public.
If you have a living trust, you act as the trustee while you are alive, and retain complete control of the assets. You may name a successor trustee in the trust declaration to act as the administrator after you are gone.
When the time comes, the successor will distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside probate. You may also include spendthrift protections, and the distribution process is streamlined with a living trust.
Other types of trusts can satisfy other specific objectives.
Your estate plan should also include an incapacity planning component. A living will states your life-support preferences. A durable power of attorney for health care names someone to act as your representative for medical decision making.
To address the financial part of the equation, a durable power of attorney for property is important. And if you have a living trust, you can designate a disability trustee to assume the role of trustee in the event of your incapacity.
Take Action Today!
You can make your Thanksgiving holiday more meaningful if you use the event as motivation to take care of this important responsibility. And of course, if your estate plan needs some revisions, there is no time like the present.
Each situation is different, so personalized planning is key. This is exactly what you will receive when you choose our firm.
If you are ready to set up a consultation appointment, our Oklahoma City office can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100, and the number in Overland Park, Kansas is 913-385-9400. There is also a contact form on this site if you prefer to send us a message.