We pay close attention to estate planning surveys, and Caring.com has been leading the way over recent years. They have consistently conducted annual studies, and their results for 2021 have been released.
COVID Has Gotten the Attention of Younger Adults
Giving someone advice is one thing, but there is no substitute for real world experiences that paint a compelling picture. The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the world for over a year at this point, and we have all seen how an unexpected event can yield tragic consequences.
Considering the fact that over half a million people have died, and countless others have spent time in intensive care units, you would assume that more people would put estate plans in place. This survey asked respondents if they were motivated to take action because of the threat of the pandemic.
In a surprising twist, people between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most proactive. Researchers found that 45 percent of these folks put estate plans in place because of novel coronavirus concerns.
The figure was just 28 percent for individuals who are 55 years of age and older, and it was 35 percent for the 35 to 54 age group.
Since 2019, the overall preparedness figures have plummeted significantly with one glaring exception. Fueled by pandemic awareness, the youngest group went from 16.4 percent preparedness last year to 26.8 percent this year.
This exceeds the 22.5 percent of people in the 35 to 54 segment. Just 44 percent of the oldest respondents had wills or trusts, and this is a big drop from the 60 percent who had plans in place in 2019.
The Importance of Planning for Young Adults
It’s good to see at least one of these groups going in the positive direction, because estate planning is very important for younger adults. After all, these are the individuals who are the parents of dependent children, and the loss of income would compound the devastating emotional impact.
A simple estate plan should include a will or trust as an asset transfer vehicle. To account for the possibility of assets being inherited by a minor child, you should include a testamentary trust if you are using a will. This is a trust that is contained within a will, and it would not be active while you are living.
As far as funding goes, in addition to your own resources, you could take out the appropriate level of life insurance. Term life insurance is quite inexpensive, and you can make the testamentary trust the beneficiary of your policy. A trustee who you name would manage the assets on behalf of the child if it becomes necessary.
We have all heard a lot about the usage of ventilators, and this is just one of several different life-support measures that can be utilized. Your estate plan should include an incapacity component so you can assert your choices if you are in a serious condition while you are unable to communicate.
With regard to life support utilization, you can state your wishes in a living will, and you can include organ and tissue donation and comfort care medication choices.
A durable power of attorney should be added to empower a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf that are not related to life-support. You should add a HIPAA authorization to give doctors the ability to discuss your condition with your health care agent.
You should have another durable power of attorney for property to name a financial decision maker. If you have a living trust, you would act as the trustee while you are alive and well, and you can name a disability trustee to assume the role if it becomes necessary.
Take Action Today!
A significant percentage of people who responded to the Caring.com survey stated that they know planning is important, but they do not know where to begin. If you are unprepared, you have already taken the first step, and now it is time to take the second.
You can schedule a consultation at our Overland Park, Kansas office if you call us at 913-262-2000, and you can fill out our contact form if you would rather send us a message.