According to a June 2016 survey conducted by U.S. Legal Wills, 63 percent of respondents had no will at all, and only half of those over age 65 had a will that was up to date. Wealthier households were no more likely to have a will, and if they did, it was more likely to be out of date.
PERCENTAGE OF AMERICANS WITH AN UP-TO-DATE WILL: BY INCOME2
Even the most basic financial planning can be impactful in the wake of your death. For example, do your loved ones know where your assets are maintained, and can they easily access the relevant paperwork? It’s a good idea to develop a financial fact sheet that provides details about each of your bank accounts, investments, pension or other employer plan, etc.
When someone passes away, just paying the bills can become a chore, worsened by the fact that loved ones are grieving. The last thing you want is for the power to be cut o or long-term care insurance to default because you weren’t there to pay the bills. In addition to creating a financial fact sheet that includes online login credentials, store all of your critical documents in a secure location and let your loved ones know where that is. If you use a safe deposit box, make sure your survivors will be allowed access.
Even if you’re single with no children, it’s important to consider where your assets and possessions will end up. For example, if you pass away without a will, the designation of your assets will be decided by the state. This means your closest friends may not be allowed to enter your home to retrieve keepsakes of you. Also, don’t forget to leave instructions about who should care for any pets upon your death, and consider designating that caregiver some portion of your assets to alleviate the financial burden.
Planning is just as important for those who have a large family to consider. If you don’t name an executor of your will and let everyone in the family know who’s in charge and who gets what, your death could lead to arguments and estrangement.