It could be argued that virtually everyone in the United States will eventually need an estate plan. It can be a useful tool for one’s family in many ways, helping them distribute assets, make medical decisions and otherwise cope with the incapacitation or death of the testator in question.
Even so, the majority of adult Americans (67%) haven’t made an estate plan yet. If it’s so necessary and useful, why do so many people avoid this process?
A myriad of reasons
The reality is that everyone’s situation is different. But there are several common reasons that contribute to why some people might not create estate plans. These reasons include:
- Procrastination: Many individuals postpone creating an estate plan because they believe they have time or that it’s not an immediate priority. This can lead to neglecting the process until unforeseen circumstances arise.
- Avoidance of Uncomfortable Topics: Estate planning involves contemplating mortality, discussing family dynamics and making decisions about assets and beneficiaries, which can be emotionally challenging for some individuals to address.
- Assumption of Not Having Enough Assets: Some people assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy and believe they don’t have sufficient assets to warrant creating a plan. However, estate planning isn’t solely about wealth distribution; it includes considerations for healthcare directives and guardianship for dependents, for instance.
- Misconceptions or Lack of Information: There might be misconceptions or misunderstandings about the complexities or costs associated with estate planning. Some individuals might not fully comprehend the benefits and protections an estate plan can provide.
- Perception of Complexity: The complexity of legal and financial matters involved in estate planning can intimidate individuals, leading them to delay the process or avoid it altogether.
- Lack of Awareness: Some people simply may not be aware of the importance of estate planning or the potential consequences of not having a plan in place, such as the potential for family disputes, higher taxes or assets not being distributed according to their wishes.
- Trust in Default Laws: Some individuals assume that state laws will adequately handle the distribution of their assets if they pass away without a will or estate plan, without realizing that these laws may not align with their preferences.
Have you been putting off your own estate planning? It’s a risk to do so, and it may be time to start looking into your legal options for your own benefit and to benefit your loved ones as well.