Studies show that only 30% of all Americans have a Last Will and Testament in place. Even less have set up a power of attorney or patient advocate designation. Why don't the vast majority of Americans have an Estate Plan? Studies show that about 20% of Americans mistakenly believe the ownership of their possessions will automatically transfer to their family when they pass away. About the same percentage of Americans just think establishing an estate plan is too expensive. The truth is that (i) without a proper estate plan your property may not automatically transfer to your loved ones—probate may be required to accomplish this and (ii) establishing an appropriate estate plan may not be as costly as you think—and it certainly can be less expensive than the costs associated with probating an estate.
An effective, basic estate plan includes the following documents, each of which has a specific purpose:
Other estate plans, for individuals with significant assets, may include a revocable living trust, irrevocable trust, or other more sophisticated estate planning documents.
If you'd like to have your estate plan reviewed or would like to establish an estate plan, feel free to contact a Gallagher Law Firm estate planning attorney—we'd love to help.
David J. Williams
Attorney, The Gallagher Law Firm, PLC