Never Assume Someone Has a Completed Estate Plan

In the past I have stressed that regardless if someone is with working with a professional that person’s testamentary intent should be the most important objective when planning his or her estate.  Recently, I have been seeing a trend that makes me believe that goal needs to be restated and tweaked a bit – Testamentary intent should be the most important goal but that is predicated on the fact that some form of estate planning is actually gets done!

When I am not running this awesome blog or working for a few clients per year in my private practice, I am a director at a financial planning firm.  While my responsibilities in this role vary day to day my goal is always to help the financial planners/advisors spot issues and prepare the correct path for the financial plan.  Since I end up reviewing most of our clients’ estate planning documents, I always ask,

Do they have wills?

A Large Percentage of Americans Do Not Have Wills

You would be shocked how many times the answer is no and it seems that is has nothing to do with wealth or socioeconomic status!  According to relatively recent Harris Poll,

Half of Americans don’t have any of the most basic estate planning documents, including a will, a living will and financial and medical powers of attorney, needed to protect them (and their assets) if they’re incapacitated, according to a new survey.

Of those surveyed, only 35% have a will directing who gets their assets and only 29% have a living will that states their views on end of life medical procedures.

My Recent Experiences

In the past year or so I had three experiences that completely blew my mind when it comes to theory that one should never assumes another person’s estate plan is completed:

  1. Net Worth $30,000,000 Age 75 – Never completed a will.  Literally didn’t have one.
  2. Net Worth $10,000,000 Age 50 – Child with Special Needs and 2 other children – No Will! If you have a child with special needs and no will you should be ashamed of yourself.
  3. Net Worth probably $3,000,000 Age 80 – Acting Local Politician

What does this have to do with you?

If these people don’t have a will and studies say that half of Americans do not have a will, it is time to ask yourself:

  • Do You have your Will completed?
  • Do Your Parents have their Will completed?
  • Do Your In-Laws have their Will completed?

Everyone should have a valid Will regardless of net worth – is yours done?

5 Responses to Never Assume Someone Has a Completed Estate Plan

  1. Glad you’re taking some time off of your busy schedule to run this awesome blog – As for my will – I dont have one right now, but I’ll have one drawn up with my wife once we get married this summer.

  2. krantcents says:

    I have had a will for 35 years, but I am dragging my feet when it comes to setting up a trust. No real reason other than the cost of setting it up.

  3. We don’t have a will, but will work on it in March. I’ll have to check with my parents, but I’m 99% sure they don’t have one either. I don’t know about my in-laws….

  4. Jenna says:

    I don’t have a will, but I have an organ donor card and my retirement/bank accounts beneficiary is all set up. As a single, young professional I think that is good enough for now. But my parents have their wills all set up which is nice.

  5. PFM says:

    have one, working on the special needs trust the last few months

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