When planning for the future, many people tend to think about retirement, savings, and investments. While those things are important to consider and to plan for, one thing tends to get looked over a lot more often than you would think. Estate planning documents, specifically a will or living trust, tend to get put on the back burner. In a study done by Caring.com, “only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. For those with children under the age 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having an end-of-life plan in place.” If the end is inevitable, then why is this number so low?
“I don’t need one.”
While this tends to be the case for a younger demographic, many people just feel as though they do not need a will. This reason can be influenced by age, assets, and lack of relatives or potential beneficiaries. In Caring.com’s study, “78 percent of millennials (ages 18-36) do not have a will.” This high number can be attributed to a misconception that because you do not have as many assets, you do not need a will. Caring.com’s survey found that “29 percent of those without a will said it was because they “don’t have enough assets to leave anyone.” While not every person will have a vast amount of assets to leave behind, having a will put in place allows you to have control over who will receive those assets. If a person dies intestate (dying without a will), the State will dictate what will happen to those assets.
Another reason for why many people do not have a will is because there is a misconception that you do not need to have a will created until you are older. In a quote from Jack Hillis, the president of Hillis Financial Services, “wills are generally associated with the passing of a grandparent at that stage in life. At the age of 18 you’re thinking about your whole life in front of you, not what would happen if your life ended.” While the end is inevitable, the time which the end comes is uncertain. It is always better to plan ahead.
“I just haven’t gotten around to it.”
Planning for the end of your life can be emotionally taxing, which is why a lot of people tend to put off having a will created. Caring.com states “64 percent of Generation X (ages 37 to 52) doesn’t have a will, and nearly half of respondents in the 53 to 71-year-old age group (40 percent) said they don’t have one.” While this demographic is more likely to have estate planning documents in place than younger adults, this number is surprising. Hillis says “at the age of 50 you still don’t envision the end of your life, so most will continue to put off the process as long as they can.” While the process can be one that is uncomfortable, it is important to have one in place. A will is even more important if you have children or individuals that you wish to pass your assets to. As discussed earlier, the state will decide what will happen with your assets if you were to die without a will. If you want a say in what will happen with your assets, it is best to have a will in place.
Contact us today to schedule a free consulation.
If you are interested in consulting with one of our attorneys about your estate plan, including created a will, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. During the consultation, one of our attorneys will review your current estate plan or provide you with information about an estate plan that may be right for you.
Written by: Sarah Jacobi, Stetson University College of Law, Class of 2020
Edited by: John Richert, Esq. and Patrick Quarles Esq.