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The percentage of adults without a will is actually quite high

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2024 | Estate Planning |

There are many adult responsibilities that are unpleasant to consider. There’s a little question that estate planning is one such activity. People don’t like to think about what happens when they die or how vulnerable their loved ones might be without them.

However, that is exactly what estate planning requires from a testator. They need to think carefully about the possibility of dying prematurely and what impact that might have on the people closest to them. Many people find the need to contemplate their own mortality so unpleasant that they continually avoid putting together an estate plan. Eventually, they may die without any documents at all. The percentage of adults who do not have estate plans is much higher than the average person might realize.

How many people don’t create estate plans?

According to a recent analysis, approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States do not have a state plan in place. Approximately 67% of adults don’t bother to create an estate plan despite potentially having dependent family members or valuable resources that make proper planning relatively important. Only one in three adults have the state including wills and other testamentary documents.

Everyone else is at risk of state law determining what happens with their property when they die. Intestate succession laws control estates without wills. If someone dies without ever creating an estate plan, then intestate succession statutes determine what happens with their property.

The law focuses primarily on the protection of someone’s closest family members. Anyone who dies with a surviving spouse can expect their spouse to receive most, if not all, of their property. Whether or not the decedent had children and whether their spouse is also apparent to those children can influence how the state distributes someone’s property. Other family members, including parents, can also potentially inherit from an intestate estate.

Many people find that intestate succession rules don’t quite suit their needs. The probate courts don’t distribute property to more distant family members or friends. It is also impossible to leave money for churches or nonprofit organizations. Only those who take the time to actually put together a thorough estate plan have control over what happens with their resources after they die.

Learning from mistakes made by many other adults can help people find the motivation they need to begin estate planning. Those who have estate plans already in place may need to occasionally review their documents to make additions or corrections as necessary. Maintaining a thorough and up-to-date estate plan is the best form of protection for someone’s close loved ones, their legacy and their wishes after their death.

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