The popular website Caring.com has been conducting research on an annual basis to measure the estate planning preparedness of adults in the United States. They have found that the majority of them are completely unprepared.
Believe it or not, just 46% of individuals who are 55 years of age and older have wills or trusts in place. When you include adults of all ages, the figure is an anemic 34.1%.
Another interesting statistic is the fact that most of the respondents feel that estate planning is important, even though the majority of them are unprepared.
One reason why they fail to take action is the impression that the estate planning process is so complicated that it is overwhelming. In fact, it does not have to be complex if you have the appropriate legal guidance.
The first part of the equation is to facilitate asset transfers to your loved ones after you are gone. A lot of people think that you should use a simple will unless you are extremely wealthy, but this is not necessarily the case.
Living Trust Benefits
There are a number of different trusts that can be used to satisfy various specific objectives. The most commonly used trust is the revocable living trust, and this is a device that offers many benefits.
One of them is the avoidance of probate. This is a legal process that an estate must pass through when a will is used, and it is time-consuming, it is expensive, and there is a loss of privacy because probate records are public.
You can include spendthrift protections when you have a living trust, and you can allow for measured distributions over an extended period of time.
Other Asset Transfer Options
This is one option, but there are reasons why you may want to use another type of trust. For instance, you can create a trust with incentives that must be met before the beneficiary receives distributions. There are trusts that protect assets, and there are tax efficiency trusts.
When you work with us to develop your plan, we will gain an understanding of your situation and make the appropriate recommendations.
In addition to the financial part of the equation, your estate plan should address eventualities that you may face toward the end of your life. Medical decision-making can enter the picture, and you can account for this through the execution of advance directives for health care.
Would you want to be kept alive through the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and or artificial hydration and nutrition? You can answer these questions in a living will, and you can address each different type of life support if you choose to do so.
A living will can also include your comfort care medication and organ and tissue donation choices.
Medical scenarios that have nothing to do with the utilization of life support can arise. You can account for this possibility through the inclusion of a durable power of attorney for health care. The agent that you name would act as your representative in the event of your incapacity.
To give your agent the ability to access your medical information, you should include a HIPAA release form. This acronym stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which was enacted in 1996 to protect patient privacy.
Financial Power of Attorney
You should make provisions for financial decision-making as well. If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to act as the trustee if you become unable to make sound decisions. For property that is not held by a trust, you can add a durable power of attorney for property.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
When you work with our firm, we simplify the complexities for you on every level. As we have stated, there are different ways to proceed, and we will help you make informed choices.
You can set up an appointment at our Glastonbury or Westport, CT estate planning offices right now if you give us a call at 860-548-1000, and you can fill out our contact form if you would prefer to send us a message.