Californians and people across the nation were impacted in various ways by the recent national health crisis. For many, in addition to being a financial, professional, physical, emotional and personal challenge, it highlighted the importance of being fully prepared for the future. That includes having an estate plan to ensure their property goes where they want it to go and their loved ones are shielded.
Regardless, a significant number of people are still avoiding creating an estate plan. This goes beyond a will and includes other important documents like an advance health care directive and, for some, a trust. Those who are unsure of its value should think about the potential problems that can arise without one and have professional guidance determining the best options.
Two out of three American adults do not have an estate plan
A financial services firm conducted a survey of slightly more than 2,000 people to assess how many have an estate plan. It found that only one in three American adults have crafted an estate plan. One in five of those who do have one have failed to update it in the last five years. When breaking it down based on gender, nearly three out of four women and almost six out of ten men do not have these important documents.
Advance health care directives—which will name an agent for a person if they are incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own—are also lacking. One out of three have one and 30% even know what it is and does.
Thirty-seven percent stated that they have not created an estate plan because they do not believe their financial situation warrants it. Another obstacle is putting it off to a later date. That can include just procrastinating, not being sure how to go about it, not believing it is necessary, thinking it is too costly and fear about discussing the prospect of no longer being here.
Thinking about the future and having an estate plan may require help
As part of their research, it was also discovered that people who have consulted with professionals who specialize in estate planning are more likely to at least have a basic will that will cover them and their family members. They also can look at their finances on an individual basis and create a document that is specifically tailored toward their needs.
For example, if they own a business, have great wealth or are simply worried about what will happen if they cannot make decisions on their own, the document can address all eventualities. When deciding how to proceed, it is wise to call experienced people who can give advice on moving forward.