There is an old saying that suggests that you should never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. How do you think such notions withstand the test of time and get passed down from generation to generation? It is probably because there’s truth in them, and when it comes to estate planning this is one old saying that you should take to heart.
To put it bluntly, there is no way of predicting when you’re going to pass away. You can look up the average lifespan at any given time, but that is simply not going to give you any guarantees. People in the Western hemisphere often have a hard time discussing the subject, but death is in fact a natural part of life and this is something that we would all do well to recognize.
A relatively recent Harris interactive survey provided some interesting statistics regarding the preparedness of Americans with regard to estate and incapacity planning. The survey found that only 35% of adults questioned had executed a last will to direct the transfer of assets after their passing.
Only 29% of the people who participated in the survey had drawn up and signed a living will expressing their preferences regarding medical treatments in the event their incapacitation. Among people age 65 and over this number rose to 58%, but still, this leaves 42% of senior citizens without a living will.
Of course younger people who participated in the survey were less likely to have executed estate planning documents than older Americans. Only 24% of participants under the age of 35 had signed any estate planning documents at all. But surprisingly, a significant 23% of those over the age of 55 said that they were going through life without an estate plan.
This is really not acceptable. When you gamble without an estate plan, in the long run it is your family who will pay the price if you wind up losing.