Most U.S. Adults Have Done Zero Estate Planning, New Survey Reveals (Huffington Post article)

May 29, 2018 - Posted by: admin - In category:

taxes - No Responses

“…if you don’t have a will, the state has one for you…” 

The majority of American adults have done nothing when it comes to estate planning.  Why?  Well, there are many reasons, to be sure.  And the reasons vary person to person.  This Huffington Post article discusses some of the most common themes as to why most of us are without even the most basic estate planning documents.  Choosing not to plan is usually a bad plan–since we are then simply opting into the plan chosen for us by the applicable state laws.

Perhaps the most surprising and troubling statistic from this article relates to parents with minor children.  According to the study cited, only about 36% of parents with minor children have done any planning.  This means that if something were to happen to such parents, for at least 64% of these persons, someone else would decide on guardians for their children.  Stop and consider that for a moment.  Parents spend an inordinate amount of time caring for their children in so many ways. And yet, most parents of young children have missed this key item when it comes to planning for the future.  Why? Well, among other things, nobody wants to consider that they might die, especially at a young age.  Whether or not this is recognized and planned for, the likelihood of it happening remains the same.  In some ways, I believe that failing to consider and plan for such “worst case” situations is like refusing to put my child in a car seat or otherwise use seatbelts on the belief that doing so will increase the likelihood of a car accident and related injury.

The costs associated with estate planning are another contributing factor as to why many parents of young children have not done any estate planning.  It is understandable that parents who are doing their best to provide the basics for their children have limited resources and therefore choose to allocate such resources to meeting the “here and now” needs.  That is understandable and commendable.  For what its worth, getting a basic Will in place is something that can be done for a modest cost, even without being required to purchase online legal documents.  We have discussed in many other posts (and in the books), the pros and cons of Wills vs. Trusts.  In an ideal situation, it usually makes sense for adults to use trusts to avoid probate and to provide for orderly asset management over time.  Even so, it should never be a choice between waiting until a person can afford a customized trust estate plan and doing nothing in the interim.  Rather, until the time that it makes sense to get a trust, a basic Will is a no-brainer.

Here is a link to the Huffington Post article: