We are two days away from Halloween, and while many of you are dashing to the stores to grab extra bags of candy (that you, parents, will inevitably end up consuming throughout the coming months), you probably aren't thinking about proper estate planning for you and your family. Why not? After all, Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off the ghostly spirits of those who came before us. Before Halloween became what it is now--a time of fall festivals, pumpkin carving, trips to the pumpkin patch, large consumptions of candy, spooky decorations and costume parades--it was a time to remember human death. According to ancient belief, the Celts believed that once a year the worlds of the living and the dead collided and the dead returned to earth.
Now, I know what you're thinking--where is Lauren going with this? Well, Halloween should be the fun holiday that is it, but it should also be a time to think about death--your death. I'm not trying to be morbid, but this is a reality that we will all face. Oftentimes, clients will come into my office because a significant event has just impacted their life (e.g., a recent death in their family or a recent medical diagnosis). Not too many people are being proactive about their estate planning. But you should. According to a 2017 survey from Caring.com, only 40% of adults have a will or living trust. Most of those people who have something in place are individuals age 72 or older. What about the younger folks? Well, 78% of millennials (ages 18-36) and 64% of Generation Xers (ages 37-52) do not even have a simple will. For those with children under the age of 18, only 36% have estate planning documents in place. Estate planning is important for everyone, but it is imperative for young people who have minor children since they will want to ensure their children are cared for by the people the parents want as guardians in the event of their death.
According to the survey, one of the top reasons for lack of planning is procrastination. Our lives have become so complicated and busy that estate planning has fallen to the bottom of the list (or has fallen completely off of it). For millennials, estate planning is not even on their radar because either (1) they still believe they are going to live forever; or (2) they think estate planning is only for those with an "estate" or some undetermined amount of wealth. I hate to break it to everyone, but death doesn't discriminate as to age or wealth. Death can be a really uncomfortable topic and force people to confront very difficult decisions. These decisions, though, don't have to be scary. I can help walk you through them. So, as you're celebrating this spooky holiday, ask yourselves, your family, your neighbors, what's stopping you from securing your future. This holiday season is the perfect time to get your estate plan in order. Have a fun and safe Halloween!