What’s Most Important in Estate Planning?

A separate study shows while 90% of Americans know the importance of having a will, but almost 60% haven’t taken any steps to protect their loved ones, says Kiplinger’s recent article entitled, “Are Your Heirs Prepared? A total of 58% of respondents also reported experiencing conflict or knowing someone who has, due to the absence of an estate plan or will.

That nationwide survey showed 46% of respondents admitting they didn’t know where to begin end-of-life preparations, while 72% fear they can’t afford to make a will.

Overall, women heirs responding to the New York Life survey are less confident than men. Nearly twice as many women who expect an inheritance (23%) feel uncomfortable managing it, as men who expect to receive an inheritance (12%).

Inflation and higher interest rates continue to make credit card debt an issue. Unexpected expenses and a lack of emergency savings exacerbate this. Even those who may receive an inheritance in the next ten years don’t feel confident managing it.

The research shows that people continue to be focused on the basics — paying down debt, building emergency savings and contributing to their retirement. However, it can feel incredibly difficult to plan for longer-term goals like buying a home, growing a family, or retiring when day-to-day challenges are occupying people’s time and attention.

According to the New York Life survey, 58% of those expecting an inheritance anticipate receiving it in cash, 43% expect to inherit property like a house, 28% expect investments like stocks and bonds, 24% expect proceeds from a life insurance policy, 21% expect jewelry or other family heirlooms and 14% expect to inherit an annuity. The top ways people anticipate using their inheritance are paying off debt (37%), supplementing retirement savings (35%) and preserving the inheritance to pass it down (26%).

Other LegalShield findings include that 56% of those with a spouse or partner don’t have a will, and 37% of adult children who know their parents have a will can’t locate it.

In addition, 22% with a will have never updated it and a potential harbinger of trouble ahead: 36% say there are surprises for their beneficiaries in their wills.

Reference: Kiplinger (Oct. 1, 2023) “Are Your Heirs Prepared?

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