Do you have a will or an estate plan? Around half of you reading this said “no.” And of those of you who said “yes,” most haven’t updated their will or plan in some time. If there’s a common unaddressed problem in the financial plans of many adults of all income levels, it’s what to do about their assets when they’re gone.
For one, people often mistakenly think of estate planning a service only for the very wealthy. However, if you’ve got a family, a home and any kind of financial account, you should definitely have an estate plan. When done properly, an estate plan can help individuals resolve everything from designating a guardian for children to passing on a family-owned small business and mitigating any intra-family conflicts.
Others may simply assume a will or estate plan is good for a lifetime. Yet, we know family changes like marriage, divorce, births and deaths are all but guaranteed. These life events can render an estate plan obsolete and unaligned to your wishes, which can prove problematic if not updated.
If you’re among the people who are on the fence about estate planning or who have done only the bare minimum, the best way to make smart decisions for your situation is armed with the facts. Compiled from various surveys and reports, here’s some current data on estate planning that may encourage you to take this crucial step.
Important estate planning documents – or lack thereof
55%: Percentage of Americans who die without a will or estate plan
71.6%: Percentage of Americans who do not have an up-to-date will
50%: Percentage of Americans over age 65 who have up-to-date wills
83%: Percentage of people age 72 and older who have designated a healthcare power of attorney (POA)
41%: Percentage of millennials who have a healthcare POA in place
48%: Percentage of older Americans who have designated a financial power of attorney
40%: Percentage of older Americans who have a will, advance healthcare directive, healthcare POA and financial POA in place
33%: Percentage of older Americans who have not discussed later-life and end-of-life plans with their family
32%: Percentage of older Americans who have not informed their family where to find legal, medical and financial documents, if needed
27%: Percentage of those without a will or trust who have even talked with their families about creating an estate plan
10%: Percentage of those without a will or trust who have sought the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser
The wealthy are not better prepared
10%: Percentage of Americans earning between $100,000-$150,000 who have an up-to-date will
15%: Percentage of Americans earning more than $150,000 who have an up-to-date will
Why people lack estate plans
47%: Percentage of people who say “they haven’t gotten around to it”
29%: Percentage of people who think they “don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone”
49%: Percentage of people who don't believe their assets are worth enough to worry about estate planning
53%: Percentage of Americans who said it's difficult to find an adviser they trust to create an estate plan
The strain of probate court
3-8%: Percentage of assets the average probate court process costs, consisting of personal representative fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, appraisal and business valuation fees, bond fees and other fees
6 months to 2 years: The amount of time an average modest estate can take to get through the probate process
35%: Percentage of Americans who have either personally experienced or know someone who has experienced family conflict as the result of not having an estate plan or comprehensive will
Peace of mind from estate planning
71%: Percentage of Americans who say having a well thought out estate plan would help them feel like a good spouse or parent
67%: Percentage of Americans who say they are often concerned about their families’ long-term financial well-being
74%: Percentage of Americans who said they would be more likely to create an estate plan if it helped lower their families' taxes
53%: Percentage of Americans who say they would feel more successful if they created an estate plan
The knowledge gap about estate planning
74%: Percentage of Americans who believe estate planning to be a confusing topic
50%: Percentage of those Americans who have a basic will that incorrectly believe wills protect them from probate court after they have passed away
47%: Percentage of Americans who knew that proper estate planning can in fact provide tax protections
42%: Percentage of Americans who knew that estate planning can be used to facilitate the transfer of a business
Fortunately, it’s never too late to get an up-to-date estate plan in place. With the help of a financial adviser and an estate attorney, you can ensure that the needs of your family and your wishes are met.