Far too many people do not seek out legal counsel from estate planning attorneys because they harbor misconceptions. First of all, a lot of individuals feel as though estate planning is only important for senior citizens. They assume that they will have plenty of time to address the matter when they are old and gray.
The second notion that some people entertain is the idea that anyone can create a last will in a matter of minutes using downloads and worksheets that are available online. Furthermore, they are certain that a last will is the only logical choice. Let’s put these widely held beliefs under the microscope.
You Are Never Too Young
Of course, people usually don’t pass away when they are in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, but there are no guarantees. A study was conducted in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It found that during that calendar year, 134,525 Americans passed away before they reached the age of 40.
When you consider the matter soberly and objectively, you can see that estate planning is one of the basic responsibilities of adulthood. And in fact, it could be suggested that it is more important for younger adults than it is for senior citizens. After all, the children of older people are going to be self-supporting adults in their own right. It’s nice to be able to pass along resources to your established children, but it is not a necessity.
Things are entirely different when you have dependent youngsters that are relying on you for everything. Plus, most families count on two incomes to maintain their standard of living, so younger married people have to this to take into consideration.
An estate plan for younger parents can include the selection of a guardian that would provide care if the parents were to pass away together in an accident. The appropriate level of life insurance can be included as well, and a testamentary trust can be added to the will to provide an added layer of protection.
Clearly, estate planning is important for younger married couples with children, but the stakes are even higher for single parents. When you take the right steps in advance, you can go forward with the knowledge that you have done everything possible to protect the interests of your children come what may.
The Dangers of DIY Estate Planning
There are websites on the Internet that sell template, boilerplate legal documents, including estate planning vehicles like Wills. Their marketing materials make it sound like you can simply fill in the blanks on a worksheet and go forward with the knowledge that you have a solid estate plan in place.
In reality, you may want to take pause before you buy into this idea. Of course, people can contend that estate planning attorneys are going to decry the DIY legal sites for self-serving reasons. If you feel this way, you do not have to take our word for it.
A while back, the highly respected magazine and website Consumer Reports decided to examine the subject of do-it-yourself estate planning. They had staff members draw up three last wills that were created through the utilization of tools that were provided by three of the major online purveyors of legal documents.
Three highly respected legal professors were engaged to examine these documents. After going over them, they identified multiple flaws that could result in unintended consequences. At the end of the day, Consumer Reports recommended against do-it-yourself estate planning.
You Have Options
Is a Will all that is necessary for an estate plan for a younger person? Many people believe trusts are only needed for older, wealthy individuals. It is true that there are high net worth individuals in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties who work with estate planning attorneys to establish trusts that provide estate tax efficiency. These are oftentimes irrevocable trusts. But there is another legal device called a revocable living trust that can be very useful for people of relatively ordinary means. Revocable trusts can provide for a cost efficient way to plan for incapacity of the creators of the trust and also avoid probate upon the transfer of the remaining assets to beneficiaries after death. A Will provides no assistance during life and must be probated after death (unless the state is under the limit set by each state – $150,000 in California).
Attend a Webinar!
If you would like to learn more, attend one of our upcoming webinars. We offer Webinars for Consumers, Webinars for Consumer Attorneys and an Advisor Education Series of webinars. Please visit one of these pages to learn more about our webinars and to register online. You can also call our office at 951-787-7711 to register for a webinar. These webinars are presented by Riverside Estate Planning Attorney Dennis Sandoval and are strictly educational in nature and no products or services will be sold.
Have a question? Ask Dennis.