According to a recent survey, over half of the U.S. does not have even a basic estate plan, like a will. This is an unfortunate statistic because 100% of everyone will die. Of course, this is not comfortable to think about, let alone talk about, but it is something we all should talk about at least once. And, now, is the best time to start because waiting until one is in the hospital or dying is not when one wants to be making these decisions.
Helping loved ones move on
Readers may not realize it, but when they pass, if there is not an estate plan, there will be litigation and months, if not, years of work one’s family will have to endure. This is because, to pass on any property, it must be done legally, otherwise, it could be classified as theft. If one has bank accounts, brokerage accounts or any property, that property is passed down according to state law and dictated by a probate judge, unless one has an estate plan. Do we really want our loved ones to have to deal with all of this at the same time as dealing with the death of a loved one?
Turning 18 means needing a health care proxy
At 18, many Michiganders do not own anything of significant value, and their bank accounts may still have their parents attached. However, they are still adults and need to plan for a catastrophic accident. For example, if a young person is in a car accident and is knocked unconscious, their parents cannot necessarily dictate that young person’s treatment, regardless of what that young person may have “told” their parent. This is because, once one turns 18, the court decides, unless there is a power of attorney or a health care proxy.
Turning 18 means needing a power of attorney
Compounding these issues is if that same Brighton, Michigan, young person is attending college. Even though that student is likely out for the semester or completely, the college will still continue to take automatic tuition payments from the student’s account. This is the same for all automatic bill payments, and the reverse is also an issue. For instance, if one needs to pay bills in that student’s name, without a power of attorney, those bills will not be paid, including, perhaps, insurance payments.
Retirees need to have an up-to-date estate plan
At the other end of life, Brighton, Michigan, retirees likely have an estate plan, but it may not have been updated for years, perhaps, decades. And, this is not just about updating heirs and accounts, but also about ensuring that one’s quality of life can be maintained if one outlives their spouse, which, statistically will likely happen.