Imagine. It is a powerful tool each of us have. In fact, “Imagine” was the most successful single recording of The Beatles’ John Lennon’s solo career. The song has been covered by artists ranging from Liza Minnelli to Stevie Wonder to Neil Young to Lady Gaga and performed at venues ranging from The Olympics to Concerts for Peace.
While the impact and influence of the song “Imagine” reaches across the globe, and the lyrics such as “imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can” may trigger a mosaic of different emotions, the reality is approximately 74 million Baby Boomers will reach age 65 in just five years without imagining and planning for how their affairs will be settled once they die.
Despite studies showing those 74 million Boomers may have over $30 trillion in assets to leave their heirs, the majority of Boomers either; dismiss estate planning because they mistakenly believe it is only necessary for “rich folks”; or, they procrastinate. In the US, over 55% of Boomers don’t expect to have any money to pass on. About 45% don’t have a Will. Even those with money don’t always plan. A few years ago, Aretha Franklin died without a Will and her Estate was tied up in the inevitable snarl of Legal Administration, a state court process where loved ones can be consumed in the quick sand of time-consuming, confusing, expensive and bureaucratic processes of settling the deceased individual’s affairs.
Face it. Estate planning issues are not reserved to Boomers. All of us now have a digital legacy such as email messages, online financial and social media accounts, digital photos, videos, etc. As people live longer and die online, family members, friends, executors, administrators are left to sift through the daunting task of navigating access to passwords without authority to manage the online accounts of the deceased. Loved ones will face a gauntlet of security hurdles to retrieve information necessary to settle final bills and secure a deceased’s individual’s financial information where fraudster’s are applying for credit in the deceased’s name.
Given the statistics of Boomers not wanting to imagine how to settle their affairs once they are no longer here, and considering the rest of the folks who simply do not understand the implications of the Wild, Wild, West of the Digital Age, it is not surprising that most of us do not have a plan for managing our affairs in the digital world. But is that how we want to leave things for our loved ones? Is that who we are? Is that our legacy?
The good news is; all of us can take a few simple steps to have a plan in place in the event of our death. Fortunately, Robin Williams did. With his tragic suicide came the inevitable fall out associated with three marriages and three children wanting a piece of the pie. But Robin had imagined. Robin had a Will, a Revocable Living Trust and had entered into a Prenuptial Agreement with his third wife. Although his heirs still battled over his Estate, by planning ahead, Robin was able to diminish a lengthy legal battle which had the potential of devastating his family. See https://www.reelz.com/extra/no-stranger-legal-battles-robin-williams-protected-family-similar-fate-death/
While “imagination” is a powerful tool, it is also complex. It is a call for us to imagine something that seems unimaginable in the current world we live in. Yet, the lyrics of “Imagine” have no less relevance in the uncertain world of 2022 than they did in John Lennon’s 1971. Isn’t it time to step up and imagine how you want to leave your affairs when you are no longer on this planet?
The attorneys at Day Rettig Martin, P.C. provide a full complement of affordable estate planning services. If you have any questions about creating or amending a Will or estate plan, please give us a call at (319) 365-0437.