Many people put off estate planning until the bitter end. Sometimes they do in fact have the opportunity to put an estate plan in place late in their lives. In other cases, individuals who have procrastinated wind up passing away before they have executed the appropriate estate planning documents.
As you might imagine, estate planning procrastination is more common among younger people than it is among older adults. While this is understandable, people do pass away at all ages each and every day. Young people are involved in accidents, and catastrophic illnesses sometimes strike.
You never know what the future holds regardless of your age. No matter how young you are, as long as you are an adult in the eyes of the law you should have an estate plan in place.
Single people are especially prone to estate planning procrastination. Many single individuals feel as though they don’t have anyone who is directly relying on them, so they don’t worry about estate planning.
This is a mistake on various different levels. If you were to pass away as a single person without a last will or trust directing the transfer of your assets the state would become involved. The probate court would evaluate the situation, and ultimately your property would be distributed to your next of kin utilizing the intestate succession laws of the state of Connecticut.
Under intestate succession laws your parents would inherit everything that you own if you died without a will and you had no spouse or children. It is quite possible that this would not be your preference.
Perhaps your parents are quite well-off financially and you are very close with your sister, who is a single mother who is estranged from your parents. You may prefer to see your sister inherit your assets.
What if your parents were divorced and remarried? All or part of your estate could ultimately wind up in the hands of someone who was not a blood relative that you may not even particularly like.
There is also the matter of decision-making in the event of your incapacitation. Medical science can sometimes keep people alive indefinitely through the utilization of artificial life-support measures even if there is no hope of recovery.
When you are planning your estate you could record your wishes regarding the use of life-support measures by executing a living will.
Incapacity planning can also include the execution of documents called durable powers of attorney. With these documents you empower agents to make decisions in your behalf should you become incapacitated.
If you don’t have any of these incapacity planning documents in place your closest relative would be forced to make difficult decisions, and the decisions that are made may not coincide with your true wishes.