At some point in every estate plan consultation, the question comes up:
Why Should I Have a Will?
This question usually comes from someone who has never had to deal with a family member’s estate. They’ve heard about wills. Maybe their co-worker was talking about getting hers redone. Or maybe they read the latest Suze Orman book and realize they don’t have a will. Whatever the reason that brought them to my office, a will is almost always on the discussion agenda.
Some Scary Statistics
The statistics on estate planning in the United States are stark. For example,
- 60% of adults have no estate plan;
- 68% of Americans age 65 and older have a will while only 14% of those under 30 have a will;
- Only 31% of people with income below $30,000 have a will;
- Only 32% of people with a high school education or less have a will.
The socioeconomic and age impacts on who has a will are startling.
Over the years, I’ve heard lots of different excuses as to why people don’t have a will. Some of the more common ones
- Everything will work itself out when I die – It might not!
- I don’t want to upset my family – Leaving them with mounds of probate court paperwork will upset them!
- It will be too much of a hassle – It’s less hassle to do it now!
- There’s no urgent need to do it now – You could be hit by a car after reading this blog post!
- Fear of thinking about or discussing their own death – OK, this is scary. But doing your estate plan gives you at least a little control.
- It costs too much – Compared to what? Tens of thousands of dollars spent on lawyers by your family to sort everything out?
You can probably think of an even more creative reason not to make a will. If you can, feel free to email me and maybe I’ll send you a prize for the most creative reason to avoid a will!
But instead of creating reasons not to, it makes more sense to create a will. As you can see, most of the common excuses are easily overcome.