Hi, everybody, this is Bridget Mackay at the Law Office of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California, concentrating on elder law and estate planning. And I want to talk to you today a little bit about planning in general.
As some of you may know, who are residents of Sonoma and Marin County or Northern California in general, we just experienced yet another sort of emergency fire, the Kincade fire. Which left hundreds of thousands of people without power, evacuating homes, grabbing things, you know, somewhat at the last minute, or at least having maybe a day to pack up things and get moving and be displaced. And, it made me think a lot about how we live our lives. A lot of times our lives are… we don’t have a lot of control about what’s happening. And a lot of in a lot of ways, estate planning is the same way. We try and plan for some risk about something that we don’t know is even going to occur. Are we going to get be incapacitated? We do know that we are going to die one day, we just don’t know when. We don’t know how. We don’t know what all of that means and what it will look like.
So, I looked into some statistics around how much of us are planning for some eventuality like an incapacity or a death. These are statistics from AARP in 2017. 81%, which is pretty good, of people 72 or older have some form of planning documents. That may be a will. That may be a trust. That may be just a health care directive and a power of attorney. That’s actually at least something. But it drops significantly for folks in my age range 53 to 71, the baby boomers. Only 58% of those folks have some kind of document. That’s just a little over half. And, that’s a huge risk. It’s like having a house without house insurance, homeowner’s insurance or fire insurance in a fire area. Which is now, unfortunately, what Sonoma County seems to be… Northern California in general.
Then it jumps even higher, actually I would say for my generation, generation X to 64% don’t have documents at all. And likely Generation X, which is defined as ages 37 to 52 have children. So, they don’t even have a will to talk about care of their children if something were to happen to them.
So, there’s all kinds of different reasons that you would want estate planning documents. And it’s not just about avoiding probate. So, the bottom line is, is the Kincade fire and this whole idea of a fire season in California makes me think that, you know, there are other emergencies that will come up in our lives. Ones that we know are going to happen like dying. Everybody should really look at getting themselves prepared.
So, if that’s something you want to look into, that’s something you should look into. Contact an estate planning attorney in your area that practices in this area and get some help and get a plan in place.