Joshua, great question…and one we get asked all the time from young professionals and couples without any children. But Joshua is like many others, including his father, Jake, who share a common misconception that estate planning is only for the ultra-rich (the top 1 percent, 10%, 20%, or some other arbitrary determination of “enough” money) or those with children and a family. Both of which couldn’t be further from the truth.
I love this question because it gives me the opportunity to talk to everyone else who doesn’t fit into the category of being rich or having a family. People possibly like you…single or a couple, most likely professional, and in the early stages of wealth (and asset) accumulation.
Allow me to put this notion to rest…people at all income and wealth levels can benefit from a comprehensive estate plan…period. Sadly, most have not had the opportunity to sit down with someone and just answer these and many other questions you might have at your stage in life. Let’s fix that today!
According to a 2016 Gallup News Poll, Joshua and Jake are among more than half of all Americans who do not have a will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. Gallup reported that 44 percent of people surveyed in 2016 had a will place, compared to 51 percent in 2005 and 48 percent in 1990. In addition to these alarming statistics, over the years, there appears to be a trend where fewer and fewer people think and estate plan isn’t necessary or right for them. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s explore this a bit further and see if I can help shed some light on this subject for you, the single (or couple) professional without any children.
As a general rule, when it comes to estate planning, the sooner you start the better. Below are four reasons why you might benefit from a full estate plan…
- Forward Thinking Family Goals – Proper estate planning can accomplish many things…but it’s important to first understand where you want to end up in the future. If you have some goals, now is a great time to start planning for them so you are better prepared when you start achieving them. Some of these may include caring for a minor child, an elderly parent, a disabled relative, starting a family of your own, or distributing real and personal property to individuals who will appreciate and maintain these assets prudently. Understanding what your family wants and needs are for the future is a great starting point for any planning process. If you have time to sit down and plan your vacation, you have time to plan for your future and your estate. Your future self, and your loved ones, will thank you.
- Financial Confidence Now and After You Are Gone – One immediate (and important) benefit of finishing your estate plan in place is so you will feel more in control of your finances, possibly for the first time ever. Often time’s clients experience a new sense of discipline in maintaining their finances…which can help with saving for retirement, a big purchase, or other such goals. In addition to the personal benefit of financial control, an estate plan allows you to dictate exactly how and when your heirs receive an inheritance. This is particularly important for minor heirs or those who need additional guidance to manage their inheritance, such as a disabled child.
- Identifying Risks – An important aspect of a good estate plan is to help reduce future and current risks. For example, one such risk might be that you become disabled and unable to support your family. Another example is the risk of possibly dying early. Through an estate plan you can chose who will be in control of your personal assets, instead of the court appointing a legal guardian who is not there to ensure your personal wishes are carried out and they will be expensive while creating a distraction for your family. Thinking about these types of risks is never fun, but preparing ahead of time can give you increased peace of mind and lower your anxiety…in addition to ensuring your loved ones will be prepared if an unfortunate tragedy occurs. If you are curious about your current level of risk on your life, we have a free Risk Assessment Profile on our website I would encourage you to take just so you have a much better understanding of your current level of risk.
- To Maintain Your Privacy – In the absence of a fully funded, trust-based estate plan, a list of your assets is available for public view upon death…anyone can see what you had. This happens because of the need for a probate court to step in and help resolve your estate. Probate is simply the legal process by which a court administers a deceased person’s estate. A solid estate plan should generally avoid the need for involvement by the probate court so your family’s privacy can be maintained.
As you can see, there are numerous reasons and benefits to having a well-crafted estate plan in place…regardless of your wealth or marital situation. I encourage everyone to get more knowledgeable about estate planning when you aren’t in a compromised situation…sooner is better than later. If you would like to sit down and share your personal situation with us, we would be happy to listen to you and give you some thoughts and insights…complimentary of course…it’s our way of helping everyone become more knowledgeable about their own situation within the law. You can Request a Meeting with us or you can simply Ask us a Question…either will help get you started to better understanding where you are and the options available to you.
Whenever you decide the time is right, at least you have some insights and knowledge to make a more informed decision for you and your loved ones.