Just like the cobbler’s children go without shoes, too many estate planning attorneys don’t follow their own advice to clients. I’ve heard way too many stories of attorneys who drop dead without having a valid will in place, or their paperwork is way out of date. Are you in that group?
In 2017, my husband and I updated our wills. We first drew up our wills when we got married in 2000. When our executor moved out of state, we knew it was time to name someone else.
Waiting 17 years is much too long a time to revisit your estate planning wishes. Many life situations can change dramatically over a few years. Most estate planning attorneys suggest revisiting wills and trusts every three to five years.
We also took the opportunity to set up a trust. My husband and I don’t have any children and have no local blood relatives we’d want to be a personal representative or executor. We researched local trust companies and bank trust departments to take care of settling the estate when we are both gone.
We also put our funeral wishes on file with our preferred local funeral home. Pulling together all the biographical information, burial plot details, casket preferences, clergy to contact, etc. was a time-consuming exercise. But now that it’s done, that’s one less chore to handle.
Many people don’t realize you can preplan with a funeral home, put your information on file, and not prepay. If you decide to prepay, either by protected trust fund or funeral insurance policy, most funeral homes will offer to “lock-in” the prices on elements that they control. This can be a hedge against steady funeral price inflation.
While pre-funding is not required, it’s a good idea to know where funeral funds will come from. If a family doesn’t have cash in the bank, life insurance, or other resources to draw upon, they may turn to online fundraising sites or memorial car washes to pay for a funeral.
Even though humans have a 100% mortality rate, studies by funeral and estate planning attorney organizations indicate only 20-25% of adults plan ahead for end-of-life issues. That means 75-80% of our loved ones will be stressed and scrambling to find information and make expensive decisions while they’re mourning the loss of a loved one.
As a pioneering death educator, I’ve been talking about death and funeral planning for eight years as of 2018. It hasn’t killed me yet. So far so good. My vital signs are still going strong! What’s your excuse?
Gail Rubin, CT, works with companies to connect with baby boomers concerned about end-of-life issues. A featured speaker at TEDxABQ in 2015, she uses humor and film clips to start conversations. She’s the author of three books on end-of-life issues, including A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die, and the coordinator of the second annual Before I Die ABQ Festival in Albuquerque, NM. Sign up for a free 10-page planning form at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128