As the kids prepare to go back to school, the adults should prepare to see an estate planning attorney to discuss estate planning strategies. And our Back to School Estate Planning 101 guide is ready to help guide you.
Back to school estate planning 101: Everything you need to know
Consider this. According to the AARP, 6 in 10 U.S. adults do not have a will that stipulates what happens to their assets should they pass. That’s 60% of this country’s adults with no estate planning strategy for the end of life.
The AARP goes on to reveal that “a whopping 78 percent of millennials (ages 18-36) and 64 percent of Generation Xers (ages 37-52) do not have a will.”
It’s one of those things that we all know we need to get around to, but we never actually end up getting around to it.
But this Back to School Estate Planning 101 guide is ready with encouragement and instruction to add this vital element for the wellness of you and your family.
Estate planning in an age of Covid-19: Dispelling the myths
If life in the pandemic has any sort of silver lining, it’s that the threat of Covid has encouraged some Americans to consider estate planning.
A LegalZoom.com survey showed 32% of young people aged 18 to 34 said they got a will specifically because of the virus.
However, the number is still far too low — and, there are still a variety of estate planning myths that are responsible for confusion among American adults.
Myth #1: People believe they don’t have enough assets to warrant a will. In fact, estate planning describes your wishes beyond distribution of money — such as your possessions.
Myth #2: Your money will automatically go to your next of kin. Not so. If you die without a will, the state writes one for you — and, many states have complex probate processes that must be followed.
Myth #3: You’re too young to have a will. While we all want to live a full life, sometimes life and death happens — so, if you own anything at any age you should have a will.
Myth #4: Verbal agreements are legally binding. The list is long of people who became victims of ‘he said, she said’ when it came time to distribute wealth and the care of children.
Myth #5: A will is a concrete document that never needs reconsideration. If circumstances change over time — such as the addition of life insurance policies and retirement plans — a will should be updated accordingly.
And, finally, a word on professionalism with respect to estate planning.
Legally, you don’t need an estate planning attorney to write a binding will or complete an estate plan — but, it sure is a good idea.
Online services may be cheaper, but they’re simply incapable of providing the specific guidance and document details that an estate planning attorney can deliver.
Back to school estate planning blueprint: 6 critical elements
While no estate planning strategy is perfect, a well-laid estate plan should include at the very least the following six documents and designations — along with such elements as insurance products that cover long-term care and a lifetime annuity.
1. Wills and trusts. Wills help to ensure that property is distributed according to an individual’s wishes, as well as to help limit estate taxes and legal challenges.
The wording of a will or trust is crucial and should ensure that the same asset isn’t bequeathed to more than one individual.
2. Power of attorney (POA). A durable power of attorney gives an agent you assign the power to act and make decisions on your behalf — including financial decisions.
The primary benefit here is that it prevents the court from having the power to make decisions over your assets in your stead.
3. Beneficiary designations. Beneficiaries (and contingent beneficiaries) may assist in passing your assets along to your heirs outside of the will — this should be a person over 21 and mentally competent.
4. Letter of intent. This document simply describes what you want to have done with a particular asset after your death or incapacitation — including funeral details or special requests.
5. Healthcare power of attorney (HCPA). The same as a POA with the exception that this person makes decisions concerning your health should you become incapacitated.
6. Guardianship designations. This is primarily for those with minor children and can be an oft overlooked element of estate planning — which means the state often gets involved with families without a designation of guardianship.
As you can see, back to school estate planning can get complicated very quickly with complex details that are too important to overlook.
Hiring a competent, experienced estate planning attorney will give you and your family peace of mind.
A final word on technology: Plus, National Estate Planning Awareness Week
There is something to be said about utilizing technology to help the estate planning process easier.
You can use scanners to preserve critical documents and pass them from one stakeholder to another.
You can even request your estate planning attorney meet with you via video conference for both convenience and safety.
Also, make sure to keep a record of all of the login credentials (user ID and password) that will help someone get into your online files and accounts.
And finally, there’s never been a better time to address estate planning than the month with the week that was named after it.
National Estate Planning Awareness Week was adopted in 2008 to help the public understand what estate planning is and why it is such a vital component of financial wellness.
Assisted by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and 49 additional members of the House of Representatives, H. Res. 1499 named National Estate Planning Awareness Week on September 27, 2008.
This year, National Estate Planning Awareness Week is October 18-24, 2021.
If you’re ready to make that back to school estate planning appointment, call the expert attorneys at Dishowitz Law.
We can help you to provide for your loved ones, minimize expenses, and reduce your taxes — all starting with a fast and FREE case evaluation.
About Dishowitz Law
Dishowitz Law provides counsel to hundreds of individuals, families, and businesses involved in complex legal disputes, including estate planning, probate, estate disputes, general litigation, and landlord-tenant law. For more information, call 1 (833) 918-3310, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://dishowitzlaw.com/contact/.