By Atty Johnson Lazaro
Why We Delay Estate Plan?
Estate planning is one of the few legal actions that involves everyone, at some point in their lives. Not everyone will be in a life-altering auto accident, arrested, or even married and divorced, but almost everyone will wind up passing their legacy on to the next. Despite this, approximately 60% of people pass away with no form of planning – living trust, power of attorney, a will – nothing. This can cause chaos in even the most amicable families, making an already difficult time worse.
Facing the Future
It is perfectly normal to not wish to think about your own end. Unfortunately, death can not be ignored until it goes away. Discomfort makes it easy to procrastinate. It can be easier to dismiss the concept when you are in good health, or do not have an estate so large that you believe people may fight over it. Having an estate plan isn’t just for your benefit. It can help instruct the people who will be remaining after you are unable to express your wishes.
Estate Planning – More Than “Who Gets What?”
When people think of planning for this part of life, they often think of just the will. The focus of many media is the will of the deceased, as it declares which member of the family gets what items. But there is so much more to an estate plan than just who is going to get what part of the property.
What’s in Will?
The Will is the document that details the last will and testament of the deceased. It covers who will be receiving what portion of what is left behind. Though commonly immediate family, there are people who may wish to leave estate to a non-relative. Most common law decides that immediate family is the proper heir, meaning that non-relatives would not be entitled to any of the estate unless otherwise specified in a Will. Wills can also include care instructions for the body, such as burial versus cremation.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney can grant another person the authority to make select decisions on your behalf in your absence. They are often specific in nature, such as a financial power of attorney or health care power of attorney. With an estate plan, you can designate who will get to make decisions on your behalf should a situation arise where you are not present to do so. Planning can even go as far as to detail what a preferred decision would be in certain “what if” scenarios. Note – a Power of Attorney is not a substitute for guardianship should someone be declared incapable of making decisions rather than just temporarily unavailable to make a decision.
The Living Trust
A living trust is an arrangement that can be set up for the purpose of placing your valuables into a trust for protection so that upon your death those items can be easily transferred to an heir. Living trusts are used to bypass probate, making the disbursement much faster and simpler. Since it is not put through probate, the terms are kept private versus made public. It also keeps the courts from making any decisions on behalf of the deceased. This is a very popular document for Estate Planning.
Uncertainty During the pandemic
2020 has been a difficult year for many. It has rushed the timeline for some to face this matter. Even for those who have not had to deal with this, it puts the awareness there. COVID-19 has disrupted many lives. It has induced depression in many due to feelings of helplessness. While an estate plan can not treat a virus, it can help create feelings of being in control due to the actual taking of control over an uncertainty.
Don’t let the state decide what happens to your property and family. Speak with someone about how to protect your loved ones, now.
This article does not form an attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice.
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