They say that death and taxes are the only two certainties of life. With this in mind, people routinely take steps to prepare for the tax man each year. Many individuals will engage accountants to assist with tax-preparation so that they do everything possible to minimize their exposure, and this is certainly a wise course of action.
Everyone recognizes the need to plan ahead when it comes to taxes, but far too many people ignore the other basic certainty. When studies are conducted, they reveal the fact that most adults in the United States do not have a last will and testament or any other estate planning document that would facilitate postmortem asset transfers.
To put the unpreparedness in perspective, according to a recent study that was done by a major legal website, 64 percent of Americans are going through life without a last will and testament. Clearly, you would expect younger people to be less prepared, but the numbers are surprising for those who are a bit older.
Just over half of people who are between 55 and 64 are completely unprepared from an estate planning perspective. When you look at people who are between 45 and 54 years of age, 62 percent are proceeding without a last will and testament.
Why do so many people fail to plan ahead for something that is definitely going to happen to all of us? One major reason would be the idea that you can always plan your estate later on when you are in your seventies or eighties.
This is a very shortsighted way of looking at things on a number of different levels. First of all, senior citizens are going to have adult children who are fully self-sufficient. Yes, you should have an estate plan in place when you are a senior to make your wishes known, but your children are not relying on you for everything.
Things are entirely different when you are talking about younger adults with dependent children. People in this age group often put estate planning on the back burner, but you could argue that it is more important for people who have more direct responsibilities to their children.
We hear about people of all ages passing away each and every day. There are younger adults who contract serious illnesses, and fatal accidents are not uncommon. You should certainly create a last will and testament or some other estate planning document to protect your family.
The Condition of Intestacy
If you pass away without any estate planning documents at all, intestacy would be the result. Under these circumstances, the state would step in to sort out the situation.
A personal representative would be named by the court to handle the business of the estate. Final debts would be paid, and ultimately, the assets that comprise the estate would be distributed in accordance with intestate succession laws of the state of North Carolina.
It is very possible that people that you love would be disinherited if this scenario were to unfold. Short of complete disinheritance, there could be family members or other people close to you that get far less than you would have left to them.
Action Is Required
There are certain basic responsibilities that we all assume when we reach adulthood. Most people are quite diligent when it comes to handling their responsibilities, especially those who have family members who are relying on them.
Estate planning is one of these core responsibilities, but as we have demonstrated, most people do not have a will and testament or a trust of some kind. Plus, beyond the assets transfer facet, an estate plan should also address end-of-life issues.
Now is the time to act if you are among the unprepared. A last will and testament can be a suitable asset transfer vehicle for some people, but you should explore all of your options. The revocable living trust is a very good alternative, and this type of trust can be preferable to a last will and testament in many cases.
Your incapacity component can include the execution of durable powers of attorney who would be able to act on your behalf if you ever become incapacitated.
Our firm is standing by to help if you would like to develop a relationship with a local Charlotte estate planning law firm. We have helped many families over the years, and we can help yours as well.
To schedule a no obligation consultation, send us a quick message through our contact page or give us a call at (704) 944-3245.