It is shocking to learn that over half of Americans have experienced family conflicts after the death of a loved one due to the absence of a proper estate plan. Surprisingly, nearly one-third of individuals have not even discussed their own wishes with anyone, according to a recent survey conducted by legal service provider LegalShields.
Among the survey respondents, who amounted to almost six in ten, a staggering majority admitted to not having a will. However, more than three-quarters of these individuals expressed their intentions to create one, while almost half revealed that their main hurdle is simply not knowing where to begin.
The survey, which encompassed over 1,300 individuals aged 18 and older, with a majority of them being at least 43 years old, revealed that 79% of participants recognized the necessity of having a will. In fact, a significant 90% regarded it as an important aspect of their overall financial plan.
Curiously, several respondents were uncertain about certain aspects of will creation, such as the associated costs, whether they should consult an attorney, or if their employers offer estate planning services.
Neglecting to create a will, i.e., dying intestate, can lead to numerous complications for the surviving family members. Legal battles over the distribution of the deceased's estate become all too common in these instances. Moreover, the court may arbitrarily determine who receives what, including money or even custody of a minor child. Sadly, the eventual beneficiaries may not align with the wishes of the deceased.
It is essential to dispel the misconception that wills are only necessary for individuals with substantial wealth, spouses, or children. This fallacy is evident in cases like Prince's, whose estate caused disputes among estranged heirs due to the absence of a will. Similarly, Aretha Franklin's handwritten will, discovered in her couch, was called into question. Even Priscilla Presley contested her daughter's will this year, citing spelling errors and "inconsistent" signatures.
Creating a proper estate plan is of utmost importance to ensure the smooth transfer of assets and the prevention of potential conflicts. By overcoming the common barriers and seeking professional guidance, individuals can secure their wishes concerning their estate and provide peace of mind to their loved ones.