Merrill Lynch and the consulting firm Age Wave found from their recent survey that about 50% of study participants age 50 and older didn’t have a will.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s recent article, “How to get started on making a will,” reported that many people don’t care to talk with close family members about important financial topics, like their level of financial security, plans for living arrangements in retirement, inheritance or long-term care.
The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave report, “Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room,” explains that some of this is due to time constraints and that people say they’ll do it eventually.
However, it’s easy to get started. You can draft an ethical will, also known as a values statement or letter. Do this in the next few weeks or month. The thought is to capture for your immediate family, as well as your grandchildren and great grandchildren, what you want them to know about your values, what mattered to you in life, what traditions you hold dear and how you’d like the world to become a better place.
Creating an ethical will begins with a family conversation. Once you begin recording your values and discussing them with your family, it’s a short hop to discussions about your estate plan.
A great benefit of starting the dialog with an ethical will, is that there’s less pressure on the family and more time to become comfortable with the topic. Although this is not a legal document to transfer your assets at your death, it is a start to having you think about your family and how you want to transfer your assets and legacy.
These discussions will lead you to finally meet with an estate planning lawyer to write your will. Having an will only may cause your estate to go through probate even though the will allows you to determine who will be in charge of your estate (the Executor) and who will benefit from your estate. In California, if your have an estate in excess of $150,000, you should also consider a trust to avoid probate all together.
In addition to creating your estate plan, you’ll want to arrange your finances, so you can age comfortably, draft a durable power of attorney, in case you become incapacitated and write an advanced health directive.
These details will come out of those initial discussions about values, and not the other way around.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Minneapolis Star Tribune (September 8, 2018) “How to get started on making a will”