6 out of 10 Americans Don’t Have an Estate Plan

6 out of 10 Americans Don’t Have an Estate Plan

It is never easy to start planning for the time when you won’t be around. Leaving estate planning for later is the easy path but that just means that the problem is still there, maybe until it’s too late. It’s essential to recognize the reality of life and put your affairs in order.
Recently we stumbled upon a survey made by Caring.com related to Estate Planning. The results were surprising. Even though people are aware of the consequences of lost wills and lost life insurance, they are still resistant to taking care of their own plans. It’s understandable because, let’s be honest, no one wants to really face the fact that their final day will someday come.

Let’s take a look at the survey data:
1. Only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust.
2. Only 36 percent of adults with children under the age of 18 have an end-of-life plan in place.
This means that 6 out of 10 Americans might lose assets or leave their families in the dark. Their pets might end up in a shelter or the lack of information might cost their family many thousands in lost life insurance.

Missing estate planning information cost Linda $320,000 in lost life insurance.

What you can do?
It can take only a couple of hours to get most of what you need in good order for your family if you use AfterVault.com or some other service as a guide. Nowadays you can easily create an online will with LegalZoom or another such service and then securely store everything in a digital vault where you can share it with others in your family and leave special instructions or messages.
But, most importantly, we need to recognize that our actions will help the people we care for and our lack of action is likely to cause them hardship and trouble when they are least able to cope with it.

In this article we included the infographics provided by Caring.com. AfterVault wants to help them spread awareness about this important topic and make sure there are fewer families without a plan.

Is it possible to write your own will?

Is it possible to write your own will?

Important as it is, estate planning can be confusing and complex. When you first start thinking about it, so many questions can arise. Foremost of course is ‘What do we need to do?’ For many people, the next question mark is whether or not they can write their own will. Is it possible without the help of an attorney?

The short answer is, ‘Yes, you can!’

But, even though the answer is yes, you might be well advised to work with an attorney to create and update your will. We’ll be sure to also talk about this option.

If you live in the right state, a good start is your state’s statutory form will. This type of will is created by a state legislature and written into state law. You can use them at no cost, but you will not have the power to personalize it as there are defined sections that cannot be changed. But, if your wishes are very simple, you might find that the statutory form will meets your needs exactly.

For many of us, however, either we don’t live in a state with a statutory form will or we have more than just simple needs. Even in these cases, writing your own will is pretty easy if you want a simple, straightforward will. If you want to do it on your own there are excellent, inexpensive online solutions to help you write your will. Legal Zoom is a popular choice. Nolo Press’s website and publications are terrific. Between these two resources the majority of people can get their will in excellent order.

On the other hand, you should not hesitate to work with an attorney if you have any doubts at all about your needs. An attorney can be sure that you understand all the laws that govern wills and estates in your jurisdiction. Although there are probably many good estate attorneys in your local area, you might also try finding assistance with RocketLawyer.com or some other online law assistance site. You can usually save a bit of money and still get excellent work from one of these sites.

Finally, no matter which direction you go, don`t forget to safely store your will so your family will know exactly where to find it when they need it the most. AfterVault.com is a terrific choice to make sure it’s safely stored and delivered to the right person when that time comes.

Single with no kids?  Who should be your beneficiary?

Single with no kids? Who should be your beneficiary?

If you’re single and you don`t have kids, you are not alone. Half of the adults in the U.S. are single according to the Pew Research Center. But no matter your status, one thing is for certain, you should take care of your estate planning. This is the only way you can make sure your wishes are heard.

But for single people with no kids it can be hard to decide whom to name as beneficiaries in their will.
For those of you who are in this situation, you probably already have someone in mind, but we can give you a few suggestions to consider.

1. No One
No, this is not the guy from Game of Thrones.
Let`s say you just ignore the issue and leave whatever you own to no one. Then you must be aware that the state will fill in the blank with the name of your closest relative. Do you want that person to get it? You’d better be sure about that.

2. Relatives
You can consider naming your sister or your brother as beneficiary or perhaps one of your “only-see-once-a–year” cousins. Imagine the surprise on their face when they find out. And why not leave a note that tells them why they were special to you?

3. Charity and organizations
If you’re still not sure about your decision, you can always pick an organization or charity that you believe in and support. Even a small donation could make a big difference and maybe it’s better than letting the state give it to that half-sister you never much liked anyway.

*Bonus
Leave it to your pet. You will not be the only one. There are numerous stories, such as the one about a cat from Rome who inherited $13 million from his owner, Maria Assunta.
It’s actually a very serious issue. If you find the right organization, such as Tony La Russa ARF, they will return the favor by making sure you pet finds its place in the best possible home.

This decision is never easy, single or not. Ask yourself who would be best benefited by the money. Is there a person who took care of you, helped you when you needed it the most and was always there for you in both good and bad moments? It might be your cousin, childhood friend, or Buddy the dog. When you finally decide, don`t forget to add your beneficiary in AfterVault. This way you can make sure he or she will have the right information when it’s needed the most.

Is there a way to protect my digital assets if I die?

Is there a way to protect my digital assets if I die?

We live in a digital world where the most of our day-to-day activities are online. I communicate with my friends and family, pay my bills, shop and work online. I can’t remember the last time I printed a picture or went to the post office to send a letter. And, like so many other people, I’m looking for a way to protect my digital assets.

Here are three useful tips to manage and protect your virtual assets.

1. Identify all your online assets

Spend few hours to identify your important digital assets. These might be emails, social media accounts, any website subscriptions, pictures and videos. When I first started this process I thought it would take a long time but it all came together very quickly. In fact this step of the process took less than twenty minutes to write down on a pad of paper.

2. Store them safely

Once you have all those digital assets identified, the next step is to safely store them for you or for your loved ones. If you try to store them in your desk, you’re going to have a problem. They’re not paper, they’re digital. That means your best alternative is to do what I have done and create a vault on AfterVault, record each asset in its predefined AfterVault category, and rest assured your information will be protected and in order for your survivors. Way, way in the future, right?

3. Leave clear instructions

Finally, don’t forget to state your wishes regarding your digital assets. Make sure the people you love know what you want them to do. For instance, if you are storing Social Media information, you can state your instructions there on the line for each social media site you use. You can leave a name and password for them but most social media accounts can take care of your wishes without requiring your guardian to have that information. You can read more about this in the AfterVault blog.

In this way, you can make sure your digital assets are protected. So…when is the best time to get this done. I think you probably already know that answer: Now! As Billy Gibbons says ” … sooner rather than later, any other form other than digital media will be a thing of the past. It won’t vanish, but let’s face it, this is seemingly the way of the future.”

Now Is the Only Perfect Time to Talk About Estate Planning

Now Is the Only Perfect Time to Talk About Estate Planning

Sitting around the table on Christmas Eve with your family is probably not the best time to start talking about your final plans. It’s the kind of conversation that could really bring down your happy family talk and cozy, festive mood. I know it would probably cause an awkward stop to the conversation around my family’s Christmas table.

If you’re honest with yourself, you know there will never be a more perfect time than now unless you happen to be reading this article at your Christmas dinner. If you’re like most people, every time you decide this planning needs to be done, you convince yourself to leave the topic for later. Days, weeks, months, and years can go by and we still keep saying ‘soon’ or ‘ next time’.

If this describes you, then you’re in the right place. The aim of this article is to give you some good starting places for The Conversation.

1. Tell your family where they can find your important documents

It’s not just during catastrophic situations that your family needs to know the location of your important documents. For example, when I was leaving my hometown for my internship I forgot some of my documents. So I called my parents to ask them to send them to me but it was impossible for them to find them in my messy apartment. From that time on, I’ve always kept my school records, birth certificated and all my important documents organized in my online vault.

2. Ask your mom for your baby pictures

Not long ago I sat down with my mom and we took all of mine and my sister`s baby photos and stored them in our online vault. Now, not only can I enjoy them whenever I want, but they will also be preserved as our legacy. It was an easy task as we only needed to take a photo with my phone and upload it to our vault. And, incidentally, we had a lot of fun doing it.

3. Instructions on how to pay the bills

Last year my family left me to take care of their house for two months while they were on a business trip. I had to take care of all the bills, which turned out to be a real nightmare. I called my mom almost 10 times for all the instructions. After they came back, we sat down and I worked with them to organize all the information needed to properly pay their bills and then we put it all into their online vault.

Sometimes the best way to start the conversation isn’t by directly asking your family about their will. If you start with the easy parts, taking it step by step for just a half-hour or less at a time, the process can be an easy and smooth one. I know that once you get started you’ll immediately feel more secure and satisfied because you’ll know that all of the things that matter the most to you and your family are organized and safely stored.