By Barbara Neff
We avoid making a plan, and figuring out why is easy. No one likes to contemplate the end of one’s life. Even accepting the inevitability of it all, and even having witnessed how lack of a plan can wreak havoc on the lives of survivors, we stall and procrastinate and avoid, and then stall some more.
A 2017 study by AARP (aarp.com) revealed that about 60 percent of Americans have not done any estate planning whatsoever. Luckily, according to AARP, in the baby-boom demographic, those born between 1946 and 1964, 58 percent do have some form of estate planning documents. However, that leaves a whopping 42 percent of baby boomers creating big risks through procrastination.
Since state laws regarding wills vary, seeking professional guidance is always wise. However, you don't have to have your will notarized. A lawyer does not have to write a will, and most people do not need a lawyer's help to make a basic will – one that leaves a home, investments, and personal items to specific people or entities.
Rather than risk the seven nasty things that often happen when people leave this world without a plan for their assets, as described in a 2016 Huffington Post article by Ann Brendoff, “7 Nasty Things That Can Happen If You Die Without A Will” (huffingtonpost.com), estate planning can begin at once using something as simple as a free online template or one of several low-cost software packages designed for creating a will.
Castle Pines resident and former Certified Financial Planner Brian Mitchell emphasized that estate planning begins with education. In his line of work, Mitchell saw his share of problems caused by the distribution of estates of those who died intestate, meaning without a will. Mitchell noted that a large part of estate planning is the proper titling of assets and accurate, current beneficiary designations on financial accounts.
“Many people do not understand that certain titles and beneficiary designations take precedence over anything specified in a will,” said Mitchell. “It is of paramount importance that the titling of assets and account beneficiary designations align with your wishes.”
Peace of mind leads to better sleep, and who doesn’t want to sleep better at night? A will, and the auditing of one’s asset titling and account beneficiary designations, will provide such sound solace.