Fewer than half of Americans have a last will and testament.
Having a will is a basic part of estate planning.
Unfortunately, most Americans have not created one.
According to a recent Chicago Tribune article titled “Don't leave a mess for your heirs,” those who have minor children do not make estate planning a priority.
About 36 percent of these individuals have an estate plan.
There are many excuses people make.
“I am too busy.”
“I am not wealthy.”
“I do not know where to start.”
Do not let any of these rationalizations stop you.
An estate plan is important to protect and provide for your family.
What are some things you should include or consider including in your estate plan?
With a will, you can choose who gets what when it comes to your assets.
You may also designate an executor (also known as a "personal representative") for your estate as well as a guardian for any minor children.
Letter of Instruction.
This informal, non-binding letter provides more guidance regarding how you would like your estate distributed and minor children reared.
This can be especially important if your wishes differ from how your family typically distributes assets.
The nice thing is this letter can be updated on the fly to reflect your current thinking.
Power or Attorney.
With a power of attorney you select someone to act as your agent in financial or legal matters should you need one due to incapacity.
Advance Health Care Directive.
With an advance health care directive you can specifically designate someone to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
You may even give them guidance on making those decisions.
Trusts can help you better plan for taxes or specific family issues.
This could be either through a revocable or an irrevocable trust.
Your estate planning should not be done alone.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Do not delay.
Reference: Chicago Tribune (August 30, 2018) “Don't leave a mess for your heirs”