Would it surprise you to learn that the percentage of people aged fifty-five and older who have created estate planning documents has dropped from 60 percent in 2019 to 44 percent in 2021? That is what Caring.com discovered in their 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study. So while drafting your Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents may feel like a daunting task, doing so will give you the peace of mind that:
- Your medical information will be shared only with the people you select
- You have chosen appropriate powers of attorney, both financial and medical
- You have ensured that your prized possessions are being passed on to the people you love
What happens if you get sick?
According to Caring.com, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s perspectives on a variety of issues, including estate planning. The widespread nature of the pandemic has made previously healthy adults wonder who will take care of them if they get sick. Concerns about long-COVID have also made many people more aware of the implications of being disabled.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 15 percent of those aged 65 to 74, as well as a quarter of those aged 75 to 84, have difficulty walking. Overall, about 69 percent of those surveyed had at least one type of disability. It is a great idea to plan ahead to ensure support is in place if you need help.
A financial power of attorney enables you to appoint a trusted person to handle your financial affairs, whether an agent or an attorney-in-fact. If you are unable to manage your financial affairs and have not designated a financial power of attorney, a court will need to appoint someone to manage your finances. Acting proactively, you can decrease your stress and save time if you find yourself in that situation.
A medical power of attorney can act on your behalf to make medical decisions. This person can communicate your healthcare wishes and make decisions when you cannot. If you do not have a medical power of attorney and you need a medical decision made, the court will appoint someone to make these decisions for you. However, doing so feels like an invasion of your privacy and can delay your treatment.
What if you are traveling?
Who will handle your affairs if you are traveling, whether within the country or abroad? A financial power of attorney can manage your financial affairs while you are gone. While delegating authority over your financial affairs may feel uncomfortable, you can set limitations on your agent’s power. You may also choose to handle the issue yourself if you are not comfortable having your agent handle it, or even remove your agent if you disagree with their decisions. If you have a financial power of attorney, you can leave town knowing that your affairs will be taken care of.
Finally, how will you protect your loved ones when you are gone?
It can be very unsettling to consider a time when you will be unable to care for your loved ones. However, estate planning empowers you to make decisions now that will have a direct impact on your family’s financial future.
The benefits of a revocable living trust
A revocable living trust is an excellent financial tool for holding your money and property and having them distributed as you see fit. You can appoint a trustee to manage the money and property in your trust. This person will carry out your instructions on how your money and property will be used.
As the person who funded the trust, you will create a trust document that instructs your trustee on:
How your assets will be distributed: Your trustee may distribute all the money and property that each beneficiary is entitled to at once. Or your beneficiaries may withdraw their share of the trust over time.
When the assets are distributed: If you have minors or are concerned about a loved one having access to all their inheritance at once, you can instruct your trustee to disperse it at a predetermined age or interval. You can also tie distributions to milestones, such as receiving a distribution after graduating or marrying.
Making decisions based on circumstances: You may also give your trustee latitude to make distributions based on specific circumstances. For example, if a beneficiary is under stress from a high-risk job, has creditor issues, an unhealthy marriage, or has an addiction, your trustee can distribute the assets in a way that helps protect them. You can make plans now to make your money and property available to your loved ones while protecting them from creditors and predators.
If you have not completed your Last Will and Testament or other estate plans, we invite you to learn more about how we can help you develop a proper estate plan and implement it.
You are welcome to schedule a call with us or reach us directly at 855.434.2062 to learn more about how best to plan today to protect those most important to you.