Are you one of the millions of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution this January? Every year, well-intentioned people around the world optimistically resolve to make some kind of behavioral change in the months ahead, usually with the goal of improving their lives or personal circumstances. Typical New Year’s resolutions include such noble endeavors as committing to exercise more often, quit smoking, lose weight, save more money, and so on.
Forbes estimates that as many as 40 percent of Americans annually make New Year’s resolutions, including some rather ambiguous ones like “find a hobby,” “get organized,” and “be nicer.” Sadly, however, the vast majority of New Year’s resolvers do not stick with their original plans.
According to data from University of Scranton psychologist John Norcross, by the end of June, only about 44 percent of resolvers still are keeping up with their new self-help programs. In a study of 3,000 people who said they made New Year’s resolutions, England’s University of Bristol reported that 88 percent of them ultimately failed, although more than half of the participants said they were confident that they were succeeding. Additionally, 35 percent of those who failed admitted they probably set unrealistic goals for themselves.
An easy resolution that can help your family
Of course, making a New Year’s resolution like exercising or reducing stress is an excellent idea, but it can be a frustrating challenge to maintain your goal and turn it into an ongoing self-help routine. On the other hand, you easily can make a great resolution to do something that will literally provide life-changing benefits, require only a brief amount of effort, and should make you feel better: Create an estate plan to protect yourself and your loved ones for the future.
An estate plan is an important legal strategy that allows you to designate which family members, friends, or other recipients will inherit your property, finances, and cherished personal keepsakes when you pass away. It also specifies arrangements for whom will manage your care if an accident or illness leaves you incapacitated. In any event, it is critical to make your wishes clearly known in advance and legally documented.
A survey from Caring.com, an online community of family caregivers, found that only 42 percent of adults in the United States currently have estate planning documents. If you made no New Year’s resolution this year – or if you need inspiration to make another one – an ideal choice would be to set up an estate plan in 2019.
Consider the risks of not having a plan
If you were to die without a will or an estate plan, you would be declared “intestate” by law, which means the state probate courts will get involved to settle your affairs and decide what to do with your assets. A probate court would then appoint an executor to administer your estate, making decisions based on vague assumptions of how you supposedly would have wanted to distribute your property.
The probate process can take many months, or even years, during which time, any fees charged by attorneys continue to add up. Besides significantly reducing the value of your estate, those drawn-out procedures and costs add to the anxiety of grieving loved ones waiting for your affairs to be settled.
Having a thorough, secure estate plan eliminates those risks and concerns, while providing greater comfort to your family and friends.
Let a qualified estate planning attorney guide you
Some people avoid estate planning because they fear it will be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful, but that need not be the case.
Regardless of your assets or income level, it is critical to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. By declaring which family members will inherit your possessions, you will spare them the pain and expense of a probate fight when the time comes.
Our experienced elder law attorneys at Cordell Planning Partners provide affordable smart solutions to help seniors with estate plans, wills, trusts, Power of Attorney documents, and other safeguards for your assets.
Cordell Planning Partners also offers free educational workshops where we explain the various asset-protection programs, all in terms that are easy to understand.
To learn more, contact us today. You also can arrange to have a free one-hour initial consultation to discuss your individual planning priorities.