Having an estate plan – whether a will or trust – shows that you have the foresight to ensure that your assets get distributed the way that you want them.
The benefits of having an estate plan are many and include protecting your beneficiaries, protecting young children if you have them, minimizing tax-related consequences for your heirs, and limiting family disputes.
Survey: two-thirds of Americans don’t have will or trust
But not everyone understands the importance of having an estate plan.
Earlier this year, North Carolina-based Caring.com – a leading online resource for senior care – released its annual survey on estate planning and the reasons Americans do or do not have a plan.
The company conducted a survey involving more than 2,600 Americans. Among its findings: Just 33% of Americans have a will or living trust. Reasons for not having an estate plan include procrastination and claims that they have an insignificant amount of assets.
Creating complicated scenarios
If you are among this group, please, promptly act. Also, if you do not have a will or some type of estate plan, here is what could happen:
- The state makes the decisions: Because you died intestate – not having a will, the state determines what happens to your assets. As a result, the state may divide your assets in ways that you would never have considered. An estranged sibling or distant relative who you never met may secure assets from your estate.
- A surviving spouse may become entangled in a financial mess: For example, the state may divide the estate among the spouse and children, resulting in the spouse having to sell the house.
- Court battles and legal squabbles: The fighting may be contentious between family and friends. A number of “heirs” may arrive out of the woodwork, claiming a stake that they have no right to.
Take the time to think about creating an estate plan as well as the scenarios that may surface because you do not have an estate plan.
Gaining peace of mind
Having an estate will plan can provide you and your family with significant peace of mind. Consult with trusted friends and relatives, and then turn to an experienced legal ally who can provide the direction you need.