A recent survey revealed that only approximately four out of every 10 American adults have a will, which exemplifies our tendency to underestimate the importance of estate planning. When people talk about their hesitation to prepare an estate plan, a handful of typical concerns come up: they think they’re too young for an estate plan, they think they don’t have the wealth to necessitate an estate plan, or they’re uncomfortable with the conversations they must have with their family members and close friends during the estate-planning process.
First of all, it’s never too early to get an estate plan (comprised of a will, trust, power of attorney, and possibly an advance healthcare direction) prepared. The alternative to having an estate plan is hoping that in the event that you pass away or are incapacitated, your family members will step in and know exactly what to do. For too many people, that is a lot to expect. The guidance that an estate plan provides will save those who are close to you time, money, and stress. Many people think it makes little-to-no sense to create an estate plan in their 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s because life will inevitably change and one’s estate plan could need to change along with it. This is an understandable concern, but an experienced attorney can assist you in preparing an estate plan that takes possible life changes into account and minimizes the need to actually update the estate planning documents themselves. While you may need to update your plan at some point to reflect the purchase of a new home or name an alternative guardian for your minor children, your attorney will frequently be able to update your plan quickly and efficiently.
Second, if you have so much as an e-mail address or Facebook page, writing down what you want done with it and who you want to carry out your instructions will save your loved ones some trouble when you pass away. Even a limited amount of assets can lead to a large headache for your loved ones if the proper documentation is not in place.
Finally, it is true that one’s own mortality is not the most fun to talk about. But an attorney can assist you in identifying what topics you need to discuss with your family and friends so you know what to expect and what to say. The peace of mind that having an estate plan can give you and those close to you far outweighs the slight discomfort of the conversations that estate planning may involve.
Lincoln, Gustafson & Cercos offers estate planning services that cater to a variety of needs, whether you need to plan for your children, your business, or just yourself. For more information about where to start planning for your future or any other estate planning matters, contact Danica Brustkern in LGC’s San Diego office.