A brand-new 2019 study has been conducted by Caring.com to evaluate the estate planning preparedness of American adults. One of the most compelling statistics that they share on their site demonstrates the head scratching nature of the phenomenon. Around 76% of people surveyed say that estate planning is important, but only 40% of the people that believe this actually have estate plans in place.
In all, 57% of adults in the United States have not have executed a last will, a living trust, or any other estate planning documents. Millennials are people that are between 18 and 34 years of age. The survey found that 79% of these folks are going through life without estate plans.
There are those who would read this statistic and think wow, I’m surprised that over 20% of millennials actually do have estate plans in place. Obviously, people usually don’t pass away when they are in their 30s or younger, but there are exceptions to the rule.
Another thing to think about is the fact that many millennials are the parents of minor children. It typically takes two incomes for young people to make ends meet with any level of comfort. A loss of one parent could have devastating financial implications along with the emotional side of the equation.
From an estate planning perspective, this dynamic is even more significant in single parent households. Without question, estate planning is an absolute must for parents of minor children, and there is another element beyond the monetary facet.
Who would care for the children if there were no living parents or already established legal guardian? The answer is that the court would have to step in to appoint a guardian. This is a necessary remedy, but the choice of a guardian may not be consistent with what the parent or parents would have wanted.
An estate plan for a young family would include the selection of a guardian. The probate court would still make the final determination, but the choice would be honored unless the court felt that it would not be in the best interests of the children.
Advance Directives for Health Care
A well-constructed estate planning should include documents called advance directives for health care. With a living will, you state your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures like resuscitation and artificial nutrition and hydration.
You can add a durable power of attorney for health care to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them on your own. A HIPAA release form should be included that would allow medical professionals to release your health care records to the agent that is named in the power of attorney.
We are explaining this element because it is very important for young adults. For example, let’s say that your oldest daughter is 18, and she is going away to college. You have always looked at her as a dependent, but in fact, she is now an emancipated adult in the eyes of the law.
Tragically, she gets into a serious automobile accident while she is away at school. You would not be automatically empowered to make decisions on her behalf because she would be an adult.
However, if she made you an agent in a durable power of attorney and signed a HIPAA form releasing relevant information to you, doctors would communicate with you during the process.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
As you can see, estate planning is important for people of all ages for a number of different reasons. If you would like to learn more about the process, there are some great learning opportunities coming up in the near future.
We are holding a number of free seminars, and you can learn a lot if you sit in on the session that fits into your schedule. To get all the details, visit our seminar page and click on the date that works for you to obtain registration information.