Celebrating National Estate Planning Awareness Week: October 18-24, 2021
Posted October 2021
Surveys show that more than 75% of Americans believe that it is important to have a competent estate plan; however, those same surveys show that less than 50% of Americans act on those beliefs by having an up-to-date estate plan.
To increase public awareness of the importance of estate planning, Congress, in 2008, passed House Resolution 1499 naming the third week of October each year as National Estate Planning Awareness Week.
If you count yourself among the 56% of Americans who need to update or create their estate plans, you may recognize one of these common situations:
“Estate planning is only for the wealthy.” All estates, no matter their size, need to be distributed, and without a will your assets will be distributed according to the rules established by your state of residence. Those rules may not necessarily follow what you would like, and, in some cases, they may even be the opposite of what you would like. Your state’s distribution plan does not include any charitable gifts either.
“Everything we own is in joint tenancy, so we don’t need an estate plan.” While you might own everything jointly, thorough estate plan includes much more than asset distribution. What happens if you were to become incapacitated? Without an estate plan that includes a power of attorney, a local judge may be required to name a guardian to manage your financial affairs even if your spouse is still alive but unable to manage this on his or her own.
“My children know my wishes should I be hospitalized and not expected to recover.” Even though they may know your wishes, that does not mean that they agree with your wishes. In the high stress environment that accompanies a loved one in the hospital, your children may disagree with each other—and your wishes may not be followed. A thorough estate plan includes a few documents known as health care directives. These documents clearly state the level of care you wish should you be unable to speak for yourself, and they clearly identify one person to implement your wishes on your behalf.
“I will get around to doing my estate plan one of these days.” Procrastination is one of the most common reasons people put off making their estate plans despite knowing the importance of having one. Why not take advantage of a week specifically designated to focus on getting your plans in place? We encourage you to join us in participating in this year’s celebration by reviewing your estate plan or by creating your first estate plan.
We would be honored to assist you in exploring your options in a no-obligation discussion. Just contact our office via e-mail or phone to meet with one of our gift planning experts.