As many people know, action star Paul Walker was killed in a high speed car wreck not too long ago. This is a perfect example of someone who was in their prime, who seemed to have everything, and now it all boiled down to a few vitally important pieces of paper. His estate planning documents. Many Americans who are Paul Walker’s age (40) don’t take these documents as seriously as they should. They think they’re “too young” or “can take care of it later” and are left without a fully developed plan for what should happen at their passing. Even though most of us don’t live our lives “a quarter mile at a time”, everyone should have a plan in place.
With that in mind, here are a few practical conclusions based on Paul’s estate:
- It’s NEVER too early to plan. Many people think of estate planning as a task to be done towards the end of life. Life can be unpredictable. AlerStallings believes everyone over eighteen years old should have certain documents. These basic documents include a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Living Will, a Financial Power of attorney and some document that will be used to distribute assets – usually either a will or a trust.
- Utilize the plan you put in place. Although Paul created a Living Trust with his daughter as the sole beneficiary (she gets his stuff), he failed to “fully fund” the trust. To be effective, assets need to be transferred into the trust in one of two ways. The creator must either fund the trust during their lifetime by retitling assets into the trust, or name the trust as the beneficiary upon their passing. Even if a trust is created and in place, assets not titled in the trust or immediately transferred upon death will still require administration through the rigid structure of the probate court.
- Handle the most important task. Although Paul may not have had his “cars” in a perfect row, he made sure he handle the most important item in his estate plan. He named a guardian for his minor child. As a parent, it is crucial that you state your intentions regarding your child’s guardian. In doing so, you should consider finances, age, and ability to provide care. For more info on selecting a guardian read http://blog.alerstallings.com/2014/04/how-to-select-the-right-guardian-for-your-child.html.
Many people fail to consider their estate plan when they’re Paul Walker’s age. As you can see, however, it is important to make sure you have a plan in place, regardless of your age. As a part of my practice, I enjoy helping young professionals and their families make sure that in the unlikely event something happens to them, we have a plan in place. Don’t make the same mistakes Paul Walker did. Call our office and sit down with us today to discuss these important issues.