family

7 Reasons People Delay Estate Planning

7 Reasons People Delay Estate Planning

According to a survey conducted earlier in 2019, only 40% of American adults have a Will or Trust. That percentage drops dramatically for younger age groups. For example, only 19% of people ages 18-34 have a Will or Trust.

So what’s the big deal?

As Baby Boomers pass away, experts predict that over $68 trillion (with a ‘trill’) in wealth will be transferred over the next 25 years. And the estate planning of those Boomers will control where all that wealth goes.

Despite the hugeness of those numbers and the importance of estate planning, it is easy to procrastinate when it comes to actually setting your affairs in order. Here are the top 7 reasons (in no particular order) people give us to explain why they delay estate planning:

1. “I’m too young.”

First of all, you are never too young to have an estate plan. I wrote a series of articles specifically geared toward estate planning for Millennials. (Or you can substitute “Millennials” for “Gen Z” or whatever weird thing we are on now.)

Whenever young people say “I don’t have enough assets for an estate plan” or “I’m going to wait until I have a family,” what they are really saying is, “I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.” Because young people don’t die, they live forever.

Do I Need to Amend My Will or Trust?

Do I Need to Amend My Will or Trust?

When I was a kid, I really wanted a remote-controlled hovercraft.

I thought it looks awesome. I mean, just the idea of a flying remote-controlled car was amazing. So I saved up my money and bought one. Can you guess what happened next?

If you said, “I used it a few times and then never touched it again,” then you would be correct. The thing took like 37 hours to charge and you could only use it for two minutes until you had to charge it again.

I was really upset about it at the time. I kept thinking, “If only I could exchange this toy for another!” Unfortunately for me, Toys “R” Us hates children and refused to give me my money back. And that’s why I became a lawyer. For justice.

Here’s the good news: there is no Toy “R” Us return policy for your estate planning documents. You can update them, change, exchange, or revoke them entirely as long as you are alive and competent (with a few exceptions).

When should I amend my Will or Trust?

Some attorneys may try to convince you that your Will or Trust needs to be amended whenever you go through any significant life change. Buy a new house? Amend your Trust. Have a grandchild? Amend your Will. Finish binge watching Friends? Amend, amend, amend.

How You Can Talk About Estate Planning Over Thanksgiving

How You Can Talk About Estate Planning Over Thanksgiving

There’s nothing quite like family gatherings to remind us that life is very, very, VERY short.

Sometimes, these gatherings can help you remember how much you love your family or convince you to leave them a little something in your estate plan.

Other times, they remind you that there are some family members that annoy you to your core, like, for instance, little Kevin who made a huge mess at the dinner table last Christmas and had to sleep on the hide-a-bed in the attic. You decide to write Kevin out of your will ASAP.

Like I said, there’s nothing quite like family gatherings…

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, holidays might be the only time each year that you and your family all come together. And I suggest you use that time to talk about what happens when you die. Talk about your estate plan.

But how does that talk come up organically? How can you casually segue from Uncle Bob’s bad joke to the contents of your living trust or your advance directive? It’s not an easy task.

Here are a few simple ways you can work estate planning into your Thanksgiving festivities.

5 Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried Couples

5 Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried Couples

Like it or not, marriage is a business proposition.

"But isn't it also about love?" Yes, yes. Love and feelings and all that stuff. But marriage can also have a huge financial impact on a family.

Marriage (or, rather, not being married) can have an equally huge impact on an estate plan.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of adults in cohabiting (unmarried) relationships relationships is up 29% since 2007. That's about 18 million adults, roughly half of which are younger than 35.

With this rising trend of cohabitation among Millennials, it is important — perhaps more now than ever — to understand the estate planning implications for unmarried couples.

Do unmarried couples need an estate plan?

Remember that there are two sides of estate planning: What happens to your STUFF when you die and who takes care of your SELF when you become incapacitated. 

Those goals do not change when you get married, so an estate plan for an unmarried couple usually looks about the same as an estate plan for a married couple. It is just much more important that an unmarried couple has an estate plan in the first place.

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

Married With Children: Estate Planning for Young Families

When you have a kid, everything else usually takes a back seat. There's often no time for fun things like hobbies or other activities and definitely no time for un-fun things estate planning.

But what would happen to your child if you and your spouse suddenly died or became incapacitated? Who will take care of your child's medical needs and daily care? Who will manage your assets until your child reaches adulthood?

A well-crafted estate plan can address these issues and more, and ensure that your kids are taken care of after you are gone.

No Kids? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan

No Kids? Why You Still Need an Estate Plan

Many young couples think that, if they don't have kids, they don't need an estate plan. After all, if you die, everything is going to your spouse anyway, right? Not always.

What happens if we don't have an estate plan?

If you are married with no kids, and you do not have an estate plan or prenuptial agreement providing otherwise, the law in Oklahoma says that everything you have goes to your spouse. However, as we have discussed before, your spouse must still go through probate before he or she can actually get your assets. This is the case even if you have a Last Will and Testament providing that your spouse gets everything.

Single and Ready to Mingle With Estate Planning

Single and Ready to Mingle With Estate Planning

I'm single with no kids. Do I need an estate plan?

This scenario describes a lot of Millennials, and the short answer to the question is yes. Having an estate plan is a good idea no matter your family situation. Remember that there are two sides of estate planning: What happens to your STUFF when you die and who takes care of your SELF when you become incapacitated. Both aspects of estate planning matter, whether you are married with a large family or single with no kids.

Estate Planning for Millennials

Estate Planning for Millennials

With hitting the work force and starting families (not to mention destroying entire industries), Millennials have a lot on their minds. Estate planning may not even be on your radar. Besides, isn't estate planning just for older, richer folks? Do you even need an estate plan when you're young and poor?

Do Millennials Need an Estate Plan?

The short answer: estate planning is for everyone, including Millennials. But what should a Millennial's estate plan look like? What documents should you have? What things do you need to consider before deciding on an estate plan?

5 Items to Put on Your Year-End Estate Planning Checklist

5 Items to Put on Your Year-End Estate Planning Checklist

As 2017 comes to a close, now is a good time to review your estate plan. Although there are many aspects of your plan to consider, we recommend performing at least the following tasks:

1. Review Beneficiaries

Are the beneficiaries listed in your Living Trust or your Will still the individuals you want to inherit your assets? Have you divorced? Have you remarried? Have any beneficiaries proven themselves financially irresponsible? If one of your children is newly married, do you want to ensure the spouse does not get your assets? Have you had additional children or grandchildren?

How Do I Keep My Kids From Fighting Over My Estate?

How Do I Keep My Kids From Fighting Over My Estate?

As a parent, you undoubtedly want your children to have successful and happy lives. And while money is not the only measure of success, you may want to give your kids assistance when it comes to finances. Many people utilize their estate plans to leave inheritances to their children to help them with financial and other aspects of their lives.

I am worried my kids will fight over my estate!

If you have multiple children, you likely want to leave each child his or her fair share of your estate. But this task is not always as easy as it sounds. Each child may be attached to different assets, and their lives may present different hardships and successes that make certain assets more desirable for them. If you don't take these factors into account, your kids could end up fighting over your estate even if you have a well-designed estate plan - especially if probate becomes necessary. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to help mitigate these disputes or avoid them entirely.