Within the family, caring for elderly relatives comes naturally. The love and care many adult…
An annual survey conducted by Caring.com indicates that the number of Americans who have a will has only increased by 2.5 percent over the previous year. Overall, the percentage of those with a will continues to decline, 33 percent in 2021 versus 42 percent in 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic sees one in three people understanding the greater need for a will, but 31 percent of those, did nothing about it.
Reasons to Take Your Will Seriously
New cases of the coronavirus, re-infections of vaccinated individuals, and increasing cases in younger, healthier people indicates COVID-19 challenges will plague the US and world populations for some time to come. Even if a pandemic doesn’t motivate you to create your will, other health and financial challenges will occur over your lifetime. Preparing for them avoids a potential crisis and any confusion regarding decisions to be made between family members.
It seems younger adults are more likely to follow through with creating a will than middle-aged and older adults. Aside from procrastination, Americans increasingly misunderstand the purpose of a will and feel it is inconvenient and expensive to reach out to an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you develop a simple or complex will and estate plan based on your budget and circumstances. Keep in mind, when your will enters probate, your family will benefit from knowing exactly what you want to happen, making it a less emotional time for them. Having a will can also save others time and money later should family disputes arise. Initial consultations may be free, and payment plans may also be available. Since COVID began, options to consult with attorneys remotely have made it much more convenient.
Everyone Needs a Will
Nearly everyone has something of value they would like relatives or friends to inherit. A will ensures your wishes are carried out and greatly benefits your family, allowing you to protect assets and eventually transfer them to a spouse or children. Your will designates who inherits your home or land and personal property like bank accounts, securities, jewelry, etc. It also lets you disinherit individuals such as estranged relatives.
Besides defining how your property is distributed, a will can name someone to care for your minor children after you die. Without a valid Last Will and Testament, the decision of who will care for your minor children and their interests could be subject to litigation. It is possible that a judge could appoint an independent professional to serve as guardian of your minor child and fiduciary of your estate. Appointing a caretaker that you trust in your will gives you time to discuss the best way to handle your children’s mental, emotional, and financial life preparedness.
Without a valid Will in New York, the state law determines who is in charge of your estate and who will inherit your assets based on your next of kin and living relatives. Assets may end up with someone you do not wish to receive your property. This distribution of your property varies by state probate laws and may not follow your wishes. When there is no valid will or other estate planning documents, like a living trust or power of attorney, it can also cause family strife.
The Caring.com studies show most Americans believe they should have a will in place by age 35, yet most Americans don’t. Though many have thought about a will, most get no further than casual conversations with family members. Surprisingly 58 percent of study respondents who don’t have a will say they aren’t worried about it.
Your will is the primary document for transferring your assets upon your death and an essential part of your estate plan. Challenges like COVID remind us that accidents and illness can strike anytime and affect our health and well-being. We can prepare for many potential life problems by simply creating a plan to preserve a lifetime of assets and accomplishments and pass on a legacy.
Estate planning attorneys help you determine whether a will is right for you. We can help draft additional supporting documents, like living wills, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney, to support your overall plan and make sure your wishes are carried out. Please contact our law firm to speak with a qualified elder law and estate planning attorney to customize a plan for you or your loved one.