The general estate planning unpreparedness among American adults is considerable. Carrying.com monitors this subject on an ongoing basis, and they have found that the numbers of people that have estate plans in place are decreasing year-by-year.
In the 2020 survey, only 47.9 percent of survey respondents 55 years of age and older had estate plans in place. As you might imagine, the lack of preparedness was greater among younger adults. Just 27.2 percent of individuals between the ages of 35 and 54 had executed estate planning documents.
Procrastination can lead to intestacy if you pass away before you put any estate planning documents in place. Under these circumstances, the probate court would preside over the estate administration process.
A personal representative would be appointed; this is the administrative role that would be assumed by the executor if a will was used. Final debts would be paid, and the assets that remain would ultimately be distributed under the intestate succession laws of the state.
Under these circumstances, people that you would never leave out intentionally could be disinherited. It is also possible that inheritances could be distributed in a manner is not consistent with your wishes.
There is really no reason to allow the court to decide how your assets will be distributed when estate planning assistance is just a phone call away.
Impact of Incapacity
Aside from passing away before you have executed a plan, there is another looming threat that you should consider. Once you reach age 65, your life expectancy is somewhere in the vicinity of 85 years. About one third of people that age have contracted Alzheimer’s disease.
This is not the only cause of incapacity so you may be unable to effectively plan your estate if you wait too long. Any estate planning document that is executed when the person was not of sound mind would not be valid, and this is something to keep in the forefront of your thinking.
Another factor to consider is the possibility of a guardianship. If you were to suffer from incapacity and did not make your plans in advance, the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.
Members of your family may not be on the same page with regard to who should assume this role, and this can cause hard feelings at the worst possible time. Plus, the guardian appointed by the court may not be someone that you would have chosen yourself.
When you have a well-constructed estate plan in place, the will or trust will be valid no matter what happens in the future. You can also prevent a guardianship by including documents called durable powers of attorney. One power of attorney can apply to medical decision-making, and you can also include a durable power of attorney for property.
If you have a living trust, you can name a disability trustee to administer the trust in the event of your incapacity. It can be the same person that would be the agent in the durable power of attorney for property, but this is not required.
Take Action Right Now!
Today is the day to do the right thing if you have been going through life without an estate plan. Our attorneys can gain understanding of your situation and help you implement a custom crafted estate plan that is ideal for you and your family.
You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and our number in Kentucky is 606-324-5516 (Ashland, KY) or 859-372-6655 (Florence, KY). Our North Carolina office can be reached at 704-944-3245 (Charlotte, NC and Huntersville, NC).