Estate Planning Isn’t Just for Older Adults

Surprise"A lot of people think this is just about elderly parents, but it's a big issue for people with adult children away at school or on their own as an unmarried adult," said Carnick, president of Carnick & Kubik Personal Wealth Advisors. "Who's going to speak for them if they get in an accident?"

A recent Chicago Tribune article, titled Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents,” reported some interesting survey results that show many adults are very unprepared and unaware when it comes to estate planning.

The Tribune reports that a new survey of 1,000 adults for shows these startling figures:

  • Roughly 55 percent said their parents have a will or trust document;
  • Approximately 25 percent of people 65 and older said they don't know where their elderly parents keep their estate planning documents; and
  • About 44 percent don't know what's in those documents.

Those are some big numbers!

The survey officials commented that many respondents reported situations where parents passed away without leaving behind legal documents. This has led to some sad stories about people having money tied up in court and not being able to pay their parents' final bills and funeral costs.

In addition, the survey revealed that very few families have health care directives for adult children. It’s not just about the elderly parents, the article reminds us. This is a major issue for people with adult children who are away at school or living on their own as an unmarried adults. What happens if they get in an accident?"

The article offered these tips for Houston families to keep in mind when working on these tasks:

  • Take Five: No, don’t take a break! Estate planning attorneys suggest that you update your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives at least every five years or when a major life event happens, such as a new child or grandchild, moving, a new job, or divorce.
  • Share the Secret: If you have estate planning documents, it's very important to share the information with those who will be helping you as you get older. For example, your physician needs a copy of your health care directives.
  • Get It Together: Many folks use binders for keeping important documents with notes on financial account information and passwords. While this is a great idea, the binders are usually locked away for safe-keeping. Keep the documents in an electronic format that can be accessed by your representatives when needed.

Some estate-planning attorneys also recommend designating trusts as retirement account beneficiaries, even though the accounts already might contain beneficiary designations.

These are very tricky issues to tackle, so talk to an estate planning attorney before taking action.

For additional information on estate planning topics in Houston, please click here to visit my website and to obtain your free "Family Document Checklist."

Reference: Chicago Tribune (May 10, 2015) “Checklist for updating, organizing estate planning documents”

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