BOSTON (CBS) – We are all going to die. We just don’t know when. So here it is not what you have done, it’s what you didn’t do that your heirs will regret. Often we are not even aware of the consequences of our lack of action.
When I heard from listeners on this issue it was the survivors of a death that asked for help trying to fix the problems their parents or spouse left them to clean up.
50% of Americans with children do not have a will and almost three-quarters of adults under the age of 34 do not have one.
According to a Rocket Lawyer survey, 32% of Americans would rather do their taxes, get a root canal, or give up sex for a month than create or update their will.
Even more alarming, over 40% of baby boomers don’t have a will. The three reasons cited by respondents for not having a will: procrastination, believing that they don’t need one, and the cost.
Estate planning does not have to be expensive. If you have assets you have accumulated, such as your home, savings, or retirement accounts, and you have kids, you now have people and things you need to protect.
Estate planning allows you to plan for the day when you are not around to care for the loved ones in your life or to plan on how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. Sounds easy but no one wants to talk about their own mortality.
If you do not have a will, the state where you are living at the time of your death has laws that will dictate who gets your estate and how it will be divided. And often times it is not the way the deceased would have planned it themselves.
If you are single and have a significant other and want to have them receive your assets you need to plan! If you are single and die without a will in Massachusetts your assets will go to your children, parents, siblings or cousins. Not your partner.
Wills should be updated whenever there is a life-changing event such as a marriage, a divorce, a death, a birth, a major move, or when the tax laws change.
Listeners also asked if they should do it themselves. I am not a big fun of the do-it-yourself will. A simple will should not be expensive.
One more thing: There are two documents you need while you are living; the first is a Durable Power of Attorney appointing someone who can act on your behalf legally and financially if you are away or are incapacitated.
Second is a Health Care Proxy, which names someone who can make medical decisions for you if you are not capable. This individual should know how you feel about such things as life support and tube feeding. They may need to be your advocate.
Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.