Give or take roughly 30 percent of American adults have a will or some form of an estate plan in place. Over the last decade this number has remained stable even though the number of other estate planning documents such as living wills have increased. The numbers among minorities without wills are higher than the general population, 68 percent for African Americans and 74 percent for Hispanics. A will that lands in probate can take some time to be resolved. It’s not unusual for a complicated will to take two years and a simple one at least six months. Distributions without a will can take an undetermined amount of time. The reasons that probate takes as long as it does is because most states have minimum periods of time to allow creditors to responds. During that time the estate cannot be dispersed. As with a number of things, life experience is the greatest teacher. Of the 30 percent of Americans that have wills an overwhelming majority of them are over the age of 60. Probate costs American families in the neighborhood of $2 billion a year, of which $1.5 billion is paid in attorneys’ fees. A will is one of the least popular topics to talk about. The two common reasons given for avoiding discussing the preparation of a will, the fear of their own death and the cost of an attorney. The only suggestion to overcome the fear of your own death is the concern of what happens to your family in the inevitable event of your death. As to the other, the cost of having an attorney can range from $200-$750 for a basic will. Updating your will as events change in your life only adds to the cost of maintaining a will. This is not to be a deterrent to having an attorney prepare your will. An alternative is available to the cost of having and maintaining a will is out there. The importance of having an expert, an attorney in this case, involved is critical to securing your wishes. Would you take your car that needs repairs to the Maytag repairman or to a mechanic?
- Ethics in Estate Planing for a Married Couple (forbes.com)
- Estate Planning for Young Couples (bargaineering.com)
- Estate Planning, Part 1: Getting Started (ally.com)
- Estate Planning, Part 2: Mapping the Details of Your Estate Plan (ally.com)