I saw a recent article that estimated that 65% of Americans do not have the basic last will in place. Among other things, the article suggests that most people think estate planning is only for the “wealthy.”
With such a significant increase in the estate tax exemption over the last five years (the 2015 estate tax exemption will likely be $5.43 million), it is easy to think that most Americans do not feel that estate planning is necessary for them.
I think the real reason that people don’t have estate plans is much more primitive. Most of us do not wish to face our mortality. We are in meetings each day with clients who are often intimidated by discussions involving death. This is certainly understandable; heck, I used to say “if you pass away” in meetings. There’s no “ifs” in death! If you have loved ones, you must overcome this fear to have a well thought out estate plan put in place.
The reality is that estate planning is for any adult who wishes to decide how his or her assets would be distributed at death. If you do not have a Will, the State of Florida (and most states) is kind enough to determine who would get your assets at your death. You might get lucky and have your assets distributed the same individuals under the so-called free Will from the State as you would under a Will that you would create. Or, it may be significantly different.
When thinking about estate planning, start with the basics:
- Last Will and Testament to outline who would receive your assets and your death;
- Durable Power of Attorney to allow someone to take care of your bills while you’re living; and
- Medical Directives to name someone who can make health care decisions if you cannot make them on your own.
Conversations on estate planning can get much more involved, but starting with these basics will allow you to overcome the fear (and possible anxiety) in having these discussions. Want to chat about your estate plan, give us a call! We’d be honored to help.