Few people take time to think about estate planning and death, particularly when they are young, healthy, and unmarried or childless. Estate planning also gets pushed to the back-burner because of the persistent myth that it is only a concern for the uber-rich and that most average people do not need it.
Statistics collated by Wealth Counsel’s Estate Planning Awareness Survey reveal that only 40 percent of Americans have created a legal will, while a mere 17 percent have a trust. Is it any wonder then that the American Bar Association (ABA) records that 55 percent of Americans do not leave a last will and testament or a valid estate plan to protect themselves and their families?
Getting Started On Your Estate Plan
Even when one does not currently have children to bequeath to, there are a number of reasons why preservation of assets should be at the top of your mind. These reasons include:
Estate planning ensures that your property and asset-related preferences such as life insurance, retirement savings, bank accounts, and even items of sentimental value are exercised in the event of death.
In the event of an unforeseen illness that lasts for an extended period of time, estate planning can give you a better handle on the medical and palliative care you will be able to receive.
You get to decide who the beneficiaries of your assets will be in the event of untimely death. Many are surprised to learn that their intended beneficiaries are not those people who would inherit under the default laws of their state. For instance, if you don’t have a legal will leaving your estate to your surviving spouse, upon your death your spouse may be forced to share a portion of your estate with your children or with your surviving parents.
Estate planning helps avoid contention and uncertainty in the event of the unexpected and makes it easy to set up guidelines for assets and other valuable accounts, such as your 401k.
Once a lawsuit is filed, there are very few ways to protect the assets in question. Pre-emptive estate planning could help protect the estate and assets in the event of lawsuits involving creditor claims, will disputes, personal injury claims, etc. One’s estate plan could include the formation of a custom trust, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC) and could safeguard and protect your estate and assets from a lawsuit.
Plan Your Estate
Planning one’s estate at a younger age is usually straightforward because there are relatively fewer things to plan. Doing so will also help simplify updating your will as you age and your life circumstances and finances become more complex. With a solid estate planning foundation in place, young, healthy, and childless individuals can begin to feel confident that their wishes will be observed in future.