In the wake of the pandemic, rising inflation, mass shooting tragedies, and other events, more people recognize that they need to plan for the future. Yet while financial planning has been at the top of many Americans’ minds, a vast majority of people have stalled in creating an estate plan.
According to a new study completed by Caring.com, a mere one in three people has an estate plan in place. Worse yet, more than 40 percent of those without a will report that they wouldn’t create one until they had encountered a serious health concern.
Why Is It Important to Make an Estate Plan Sooner Rather Than Later?
It is dangerous to wait until you have a health issue before creating an estate plan. Without one, you could potentially lose control over your money, property, health care, and, in some circumstances, the guardianship of your children. In addition, your loved ones may not receive the assets, property, or sentimentally valuable items you would have wanted to pass down to them after your death.
Depending on what health condition or acute injury may unexpectedly befall you, you may be unable to speak, understand others, or advocate for yourself. Part of the purpose of advance planning documents, such as a health care directive, is to maintain your bodily autonomy and express your wishes when you cannot.
Bottom line: The reason for creating an estate plan is to put protections in place not only for you, but also for your loved ones.
Barriers to Advance Planning
Despite understanding the need for estate planning, with 64 percent of people saying they believe it is important, most have not made it a priority. In the 2023 study, Americans reported procrastinating on creating an estate plan for the following reasons:
- 35 percent do not believe they have enough money or assets to leave behind
- 14 percent said that inflation’s negative effect on their assets has made estate or financial planning less of a priority for them
- 15 percent reported that they did not know enough about estate planning, so they felt too intimidated to start
- 42 percent stated they want to begin estate planning, but simply have not gotten around to it