by Austin Waugh • 3 min read
In 2008, the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC) worked with leaders in Congress to adopt H.R. 1499 which recognizes the third week in October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. At the time of the resolution, it was estimated that over 120 million Americans did not have up-to-date estate plans in place to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. A recent survey administered by Caring.com reveals that in 2023, approximately two out of three Americans do not have any type of estate planning document. These are alarming statistics which reinforce the need for estate planning awareness.
Estate planning is the purposeful development of a strategy that promotes the financial security of individuals through their lifetime and ensures that their property and assets are transferred at death consistent with their intended desires. Put another way, an estate plan is a roadmap of sorts that gets you from point A, where you are today, to point B, where you want to be in the future. A well designed estate plan encompasses the growth, conservation, and transfer of an individual’s net worth while taking into consideration the unique circumstances of the family and the potential costs of different methods.1 While estate plans have a heavy focus on the efficient transfer of financial assets to loved ones and charitable causes, they accomplish much more than that. They also provide protections that you may need in the form of healthcare directives and other powers of attorney. Estate planning, contrary to popular belief, is not only for the rich and famous. It is, in fact, vitally important for every individual regardless of wealth level or age.
The lack of thoughtful estate planning can be ruinous to your legacy. With no plan in place, your assets can be subject to probate, family relationships can be strained, tax liabilities can increase, and investment returns can be sub-optimal. Warren Burger, who was named chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1969, provides a valuable lesson on the woes of improper estate planning. While Burger drafted a “homemade” will, he neglected to take into account other aspects of a comprehensive estate plan that ended up costing his estate the price of probate and additional paperwork.2
The excuses for why we don’t proactively engage in estate planning vary widely but the good news is that preparing your estate plan doesn’t have to be difficult. We have made available our free Estate Planning Guide that can be a valuable tool as you begin the process of planning your life, your future, and your legacy. You can find additional information by visiting our Legacy Giving site at https://firstlibertylegacy.org/. If we can provide you with any additional information about, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
When it comes to leaving a legacy for those that we love and to the causes we hold dear, there is always more to learn in our ever-changing world. If you’d like to stay informed of up-to-date, helpful information on topics that impact your quality of life, your finances and your legacy, sign up for our eNewsletter.
Tax laws are complex and are subject to change. This information is based upon current tax rules in effect at the time this was written. First Liberty Institute does not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should always check with their tax or legal advisor before engaging in any transaction involving tax-advantaged planning strategies or investments. Comments herein are for educational purposes only.