Most American adults do not have an estate plan. Studies have found that, even though everyone needs a plan eventually, only about one-third of Americans have actually created estate plans. Many others are putting it off or may have no plans to craft these documents at all.
Procrastination when it comes to estate planning is a common phenomenon, and there are several reasons why people delay or avoid the process.
Estate planning can seem overwhelming, especially if someone has complex financial assets, a large family or various beneficiaries. People may be unsure where to start and delay taking action as a result. They may also be unaware of the specific legal documents they need to use.
Fear of mortality
Planning for one’s estate forces people to think about the end of their life. Some people find it uncomfortable to think about what will happen to the assets they currently own after they pass away. They procrastinate because putting it off seems easier, emotionally speaking.
Lack of awareness
Some individuals may not fully understand the importance of estate planning, the potential consequences of not having a plan or the benefits it can offer to their heirs. For example, many people think that estate planning is only for the wealthy, when anyone can actually benefit from crafting a plan. Also, most people are unaware that the State will determine what happens with their possessions if they die before they create a plan.
Estate planning can be time-consuming, involving legal documents, financial decisions and discussions with family members or beneficiaries. People may put it off due to a perceived lack of time. They’re too busy with their family, their job, a business they run or something else entirely.
Life events such as getting married, getting divorced, the birth of a child or grandchild, the death of an heir or major changes in financial status can complicate estate planning. Some people may delay planning because they expect their circumstances to change. In reality, these life events are a great time to update an existing plan. It’s better to make a plan and update it periodically than to keep putting off the creation of an initial plan.
Even though the process can be intimidating, it’s essential to recognize that estate planning is a responsible and caring act that can provide peace of mind and financial security for loved ones. Everyone needs to know exactly what legal options they have at their disposal and seeking legal guidance proactively is a great way to gain this understanding.