Did you know that August is National Make-a-Will Month? Since at least 2010, estate planning lawyers and other professionals have highlighted this unique month and used it as a reminder to get wills and estate plans in order.
A will is a crucial element of not only estate planning, but life planning. Only 4 in 10 American adults have a will or other estate planning documents in place, according to a recent AARP survey from January 2017. The numbers increase as people age, as 81% of those aged 72 or older and 58% of those between ages 53 and 71 (the boomer generation) have estate planning documents.
However, it’s important for those under the age of 53 to have wills and powers of attorney in place as well. It’s also important to keep those documents updated, regardless of your age. There are too many instances of younger people becoming incapacitated or dying young without specifying their wishes for end of life care, disposition of remains, or leaving a will, and there are even more instances of outdated wills or trusts being activated because those are the only legal records of that person’s final wishes. A court will typically enforce the last legal will created by the deceased unless there is a very compelling challenge brought before the court, such as undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity on the part of the testator, fraud, or forgery. Very few wills are contested, and of those that are, only about 1% of challenges are successful. It is critical that your estate plans remain as up-to-date as possible to avoid any confusion or argument over what your last wishes are.
Use National Make-a-Will Month to talk to an estate lawyer today to create your will, update your documents, or even just find out more information. It’s never too early to create a valid will, but one day, it may be too late.