Most people put off estate planning. In fact, most people don't have a will.
Here's what people assume, based on the traditional model, is going to happen when someone does their estate planning: They'll pay off the mortgage, retire, live in the home without payments until they pass away and then leave the home to their heirs debt-free.
It's easy to think that estate planning is all about you or all about your financial assets. While it does start with these things, it's actually all about your family. It may have a bigger impact on them than you realize.
A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order tells medical professionals that you do not want them to utilize any aggressive measures to save your life. Medical care itself is fine, but if you pass away, you want them to stop short of attempting to bring you back. This can be an important part of your estate planning, along with documents like a health care advance directive.
If your spouse passes away, you know you may have some big financial decisions to make. This could include doing substantial estate planning to alter the plan in light of your new situation.
You have probably heard people talk about how it's never too early to do your estate planning. You don't have to put it off until you retire. Even if you're in your early 20s, it wouldn't hurt to get an estate plan in place. After all, accidents take lives every day. You can't count on surviving into your 60s or 70s, when people traditionally start thinking about estate planning.
Do you know people who have not written a will or made an estate plan? Even if you never talk about it with them, you probably do. A shocking amount of people have never drafted a will. They just keep procrastinating and putting it off.
There are dozens and potentially hundreds of individual goals for an estate plan, which differ from person to person. What your goals are depend on what assets you have, what you want to accomplish and what your family needs.
When you draft a health care proxy, the goal is to pick an agent who will then act on your behalf. If you cannot make medical decisions, they make them for you.
The general assumption in the modern world is that life expectancy should keep going up. As medicine advances, people live longer. We haven't had a war on the scale of the World Wars in generations, diseases are more contained than they have been in the past and technology has improved at a simply astounding rate.