After the nightmarish year of 2020, many American adults still do not have even a basic simple Will. According to surveys conducted by Caring.com, middle-aged and older adults are still less likely to have a Will or Trust now (2021) than a year ago. An interesting statistic from their surveys is that this year, younger adults, aged 18 to 34, are 63% more likely to have estate planning of some kind completed.
In spite of the pandemic and resulting issues, Caring.com reports that “the overall percentage of Americans with a will has not significantly changed.”
When you experience a major life event, you should review and update your estate planning documents. This could mean creating a Will if you don’t already have one; updating current documents while leaving the structure intact; or creating a Trust in addition to a Will.
Major life events include any of the following:
- Birth of a child or grandchild
- Death of a child or grandchild
- Move to a different state
- Purchase of a house
- Terminal illness
- Death of a spouse
- Death of an heir
- Sudden change in assets, such as receiving an inheritance
- Creating or selling a business
As I’ve previously written, allowing your estate planning documents to go out of date may create significant problems. You may have children who are not accounted for in your outdated documents, or assets may not be accounted for, which then may lead to a contentious legal situation for heirs. Tragically, your benficiaries may predecease you and, if your Will does not provide for successor beneficiaries, your assets will pass according to state law, and not necessarily according to your wishes.
It is incredibly important if you have children to name a legal guardian, and a backup, in your estate planning documents. This ensures that the people you have confidence in, and trust, will be granted custody if you die before they reach the age of 18
If you have any questions, ask your estate planning professional for advice. They will be more than happy to help!