It’s not something that any of us like to think about, but it does pay to spend a little time putting plans in place that will kick in should the worst happen.
That’s especially true if you have children or other dependents. What would happen to them if you were to die tomorrow, or if you became seriously ill and unable to work? What would happen to your family? How would they pay the mortgage and household bills and put food on the table?
Life insurance might not be as expensive as you think
The younger you are, generally means the cheaper life insurance is. When you consider that even critical illness premiums, which can cover you for a range of illnesses from cancer to multiple sclerosis, can start from $5 a month, that’s considerably less than the monthly price of Netflix.
Write your will
Having a will in place is also an essential -- yet the number of people who have died without making a will is staggering. This can cause problems for those left behind; with 27% of those administering the estate without a will having difficulties. Of those left to organise a funeral, a staggering 99% do not know all the funeral wishes of the deceased – a third don’t even know if the person would have wanted burial or cremation.
According to Advance Capital Management, Americans lack effective estate planning. Consider these surprising data points:
- 55%: Percentage of Americans who die without a will or estate plan
- 71.6%: Percentage of Americans who do not have an up-to-date will
- 50%: Percentage of Americans over age 65 who have up-to-date wills
- 83%: Percentage of people age 72 and older who have designated a healthcare power of attorney (POA)
- 41%: Percentage of millennials who have a healthcare POA in place
- 48%: Percentage of older Americans who have designated a financial power of attorney
- 40%: Percentage of older Americans who have a will, advance healthcare directive, healthcare POA and financial POA in place
- 33%: Percentage of older Americans who have not discussed later-life and end-of-life plans with their family
- 32%: Percentage of older Americans who have not informed their family where to find legal, medical and financial documents, if needed
- 27%: Percentage of those without a will or trust who have even talked with their families about creating an estate plan
- 10%: Percentage of those without a will or trust who have sought the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser
The wealthy are not better prepared
- 10%: Percentage of Americans earning between $100,000-$150,000 who have an up-to-date will
- 15%: Percentage of Americans earning more than $150,000 who have an up-to-date will
Why people lack estate plans
- 47%: Percentage of people who say “they haven’t gotten around to it”
- 29%: Percentage of people who think they “don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone”
- 49%: Percentage of people who don't believe their assets are worth enough to worry about estate planning
- 53%: Percentage of Americans who said it's difficult to find an adviser they trust to create an estate plan
The strain of probate court
- 3-8%: Percentage of assets the average probate court process costs, consisting of personal representative fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, appraisal and business valuation fees, bond fees and other fees
- 6 months to 2 years: The amount of time an average modest estate can take to get through the probate process
- 35%: Percentage of Americans who have either personally experienced or know someone who has experienced family conflict as the result of not having an estate plan or comprehensive will
Peace of mind from estate planning
- 71%: Percentage of Americans who say having a well thought out estate plan would help them feel like a good spouse or parent
- 67%: Percentage of Americans who say they are often concerned about their families’ long-term financial well-being
- 74%: Percentage of Americans who said they would be more likely to create an estate plan if it helped lower their families' taxes
- 53%: Percentage of Americans who say they would feel more successful if they created an estate plan
The knowledge gap about estate planning
- 74%: Percentage of Americans who believe estate planning to be a confusing topic
- 50%: Percentage of those Americans who have a basic will that incorrectly believe wills protect them from probate court after they have passed away
- 47%: Percentage of Americans who knew that proper estate planning can in fact provide tax protections
- 42%: Percentage of Americans who knew that estate planning can be used to facilitate the transfer of a business
- Fortunately, it’s never too late to get an up-to-date estate plan in place. With the help of a financial adviser and an estate attorney, you can ensure that the needs of your family and your wishes are met.
Consider ensuring a roof over your head
If you have a mortgage, consider taking out insurance that will cover you if you lose your job. Mortgage protection isn’t cheap and can come with all sorts of exclusions, so do your homework and shop around for the most suitable policy.
So what do you have in place should the worst happen? It’s time to get real and plan for the worst.
Then all you have to do is hope and pray that it doesn’t happen.