From designating trusted guardians for children who are still minors to creating a financial legacy for the next generation, a will is essential for those who want to protect their assets and provide for their family after they are gone. Nonetheless, according to a recent article by Forbes, almost half of Americans over age 55 have still put off making a will.
The primary reason that those polled had not made a will? Forty-seven percent said they simply had not gotten around to it, and many said they did not know where to start—even though most of them worried that doing so may cause their family hardship in the future. Here are a few quick tips to help begin the process.
Have discussions with family, friends
For many people, the death of a parent or other close relative is their first experience with the probate process. Speaking with family members or friends who have already gone through this often technical proceeding may help to put estate planning terminology in human terms, making it easier to begin drafting a will of one’s own.
Seek financial advice early
Even if an individual has a small estate, meeting with an attorney may be invaluable. From ensuring provisions for dependent children well into the future to exploring life insurance and legacy planning options, it is never too early to begin. Individuals often postpone estate planning thinking they will be in a better position in the future, only to pass away without having made their true intentions known.
Consider all estate planning options
A will is an important document, but it is only one of several essential estate planning tools that individuals should consider—especially those approaching retirement age. With the increase in life expectancy and greater financial interdependence between generations, it is also important to consider legacy plans that include health care directives, durable powers of attorney and living trusts.
Prevent a lengthy probate process
When people die without a will in Indiana, their assets must go through the time-consuming probate process, where the court has the last say about how to divide and distribute the property of the deceased. That can lead to stress, hurt feelings and unexpected financial difficulties for family members. Creating a clearly defined will and other estate planning documents early may help to improve both peace of mind in the present and security for the future.