Part 1: It’s an Act of Love
Fact: When you pass, you will leave behind an estate, and somebody will need to settle it. Your estate may be worth a little or a lot, but regardless of size, there is no escaping the legal and financial processes that follow death.
So why do so many families put off their essential estate planning until push comes to shove?
Since 2015, Caring.com has been conducting a periodic survey of Americans’ estate planning habits. Its most recent results suggest the pandemic has spurred an uptick in estate planning, especially among younger adults. That’s good news. But still, an enormous divide remains:
Some 60% of those surveyed agreed it’s important to have a will.
But, as of December 2020, only about a third of them actually had one.
Among those without a will, the top reason cited across multiple years remained the same:
“I haven’t gotten around to it.”
This isn’t surprising, given the logistical and emotional stumbling blocks involved. Plus, most families are plenty busy with interests that seem more immediate … right up until they’re not. In short, if you’ve been procrastinating on your estate planning, you’re not alone. But regardless of your age or net worth, let’s correct that oversight today, because estate planning is truly an act of love.
By reducing the stress load for your loved ones during an already stressful time,
a well-structured estate plan may be the greatest gift you can bequeath.
According to a 2018 EstateExec survey, it typically takes just under 700 hours to settle an estate valued between $1–$5 million. Every painful task and each extra hour you can take care of in advance will be one more way you can give back to the loved ones you leave behind, granting them the space they’ll need to grieve and process the emotional toll of their loss.
Estate planning also brings important practical advantages to nearly every family:
Clarity: Your actual wishes are far more likely to be realized if you’ve written them down and made them legally binding.
Speed: Your estate is likely to settle far more quickly, with less red tape and fewer frustrating delays before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance as hoped for.
Cost Savings: Faster settlements usually translate to fewer costs.
Tax Benefits: Estate planning can include basic and advanced strategies for facilitating a more tax-efficient wealth transfer.
Protection: By addressing potential problems in advance, distributions are less likely to end up in the wrong hands, such as estranged family members or debt collectors.
So, what’s stopping you from getting a grip on your estate planning? In our next post, we’ll take you through the three common hurdles that stand between you and your effective estate planning. These include: (1) deciding who gets what, (2) making it legal, and (3) getting (and remaining) organized.
If all that is stopping you from creating your plan is knowing who to call for help, let us know! We’ll share a referral to an estate planning professional who can help you start (and finish!) this important task.
Andrea L. Blackwelder, CFP®, ChFC, CDFA® and Joseph D. Clemens, CFP®, EA are the founders and partners of Wisdom Wealth Strategies. Their shared passion is simple: to bring financial empowerment, understanding, and peace-of mind to people who wish to improve their financial future, build wealth for their families, and achieve financial independence. Click here to find out more about how you can work with the Denver Financial Advisors at Wisdom Wealth Strategies.