Estate planning is a process that affects your entire family. The decisions you make today regarding your will and trust can affect your spouse, children, and other relatives years down the line. This is why it is important to make sure your family is aware of your estate planning intentions.
52% of Americans Have No Will
BMO Wealth Management, an international bank based in Montreal, recently released the results of a survey it conducted of 1,008 American adults about their attitudes towards estate planning issues. The report, called “Estate Planning for Complex Family Dynamics,” offers some interesting insights into how the average American views the estate planning process, in particular how they responded to their own experience with inheritances.
Roughly two out of every five survey respondents “felt that the distribution of their parents’ estate was not done fairly,” the report said. In general, respondents said it was important for parents to leave a “fair”–but not necessarily equal–inheritances to each beneficiary. Only 29% of respondents said their parents left an “equal” share to each beneficiary, and another 12% said the distribution was “justified” but unequal.
Interestingly, only 28% said they had prior discussions with their parents about their estate planning. Apparently this is a downward trend: Only 13% said they were likely to discuss their own estate planning with family. And “more alarmingly,” the report said, “more than half of those surveyed (52%) did not have a will in place.”
Answer Your Family’s Questions While You are Still Alive
Needless to say, these figures are disappointing. Not only should you have a will and other vital estate planning documents, you should also tell your family about your intentions. For one thing, your heirs should know how to locate your will or trust so as to minimize potential confusion or delay after your death. Yet the BMO survey found that only about one-third of respondents had made their heirs “aware of” the location of their estate planning papers.
The report advises Americans to engage in more open communication with family members. Noting many people believe, erroneously, that avoiding such discussions minimizes conflict, the report cites the well known businessman Warren Buffett, who once pointed out, “Your children are going to read the Will someday…it’s crazy for them to read it after you’re dead for the first time.”
Since the whole point of making a will is to avoid misunderstandings as to your wishes, it only makes sense to talk to your family while you are still in a position to answer questions and address any concerns.
Get Help Making a California Will Today
Of course, before talking to your family about what is in your will, you need to start making one. If you are among the 52% of Americans who do not already have a will, there is no time like the present to get started. If you need assistance from a qualified San Diego estate planning attorney, contact the Law Office of Scott C. Soady today.