Caring.com/You.gov 2021 Poll:
- 34.2% “Haven’t Gotten Around To It”
- 28.1% “I Don’t Have Enough Assets
1 out of 3 people said that COVID caused them to see a greater need for an estate plan, but 31% of those who saw a greater need didn’t do anything about it.
The number 35-54 year-olds with a will has decreased from 37% in 2019 to 22.5% in 2021 – a decline of 39%. Similarly, the number of adults 55 and older with a will has fallen from 60% to 44% since 2019. This is also a decrease of 27%. The only group to show an increase is the 18-34 year-olds!
What does this mean for you?
If you get seriously sick or injured – you don’t have a Health Care Agent named so someone will have to go to court and be named your Guardian. This requires you to be determined “incapacitated.” This process takes time and money and, in the meantime, critical healthcare decisions may not be being made. Also, someone NOT of your choice may be named guardian.
No Advanced Directive/Living Will. Do you want extraordinary measures if you are seriously injured or sick? That may be a “no” for something like cancer, a serious accident, or a stroke, but “yes” for COVID. If that is not documented you may get, or not get your chosen level of care.
Somewhat tied to the above, but not necessarily – you cannot manage your financial and legal affairs/decision making. If you don’t have a Power of Attorney named, a financial guardian or Conservator will need to be appointed (think Britney Spears). Again, this requires you to be determined “incapacitated.” This process takes time and money and, in the meantime, bills are not being paid, taxes may not be submitted, etc. Also, someone NOT of your choice may be named Conservator.
No Guardian named for a Minor Child. If you have not properly named a guardian for a minor child, should something happen to you, it may be necessary to involve your Department of Child Services while awaiting the determination of who should be your child’s guardian. Again, it may end up that someone NOT of your choosing would be named guardian and have the responsibility for your child AND any assets flowing to your child. If you are divorced, your ex may get access to any monies flowing to your child and be named conservator as well as Guardian.
No Will or Living Trust – your assets and “stuff” will have to be distributed pursuant to the MA laws of intestacy via the probate courts. This is a time-consuming and PUBLIC process. Those laws may not line up with what you would have wanted and again, someone NOT of your choosing may be designated to handle this. Like the above, this takes more time and money than it needs to. If you have children under the age of 18, would you want them to receive sizable amounts of money when they turn 18, with no strings attached? If a Will is paired with a Trust, you can put limits on assets distributed to your children, you can keep your asset information private, out of the probate courts.
In the above survey, 8% said “I don’t know how to start this process.” Good news, I do. Let’s set up a no-fee 20-minute consult and we can get you started.