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Sixty Five Percent of Americans Have No Will

According to an article on Forbes.com (see here), a recent survey showed that 65% of Americans do not have wills and 71% do not have health care directives (or living wills)! Asked why they had no estate planning documents, about 44% of respondents said they did not want to pay the expense, and another 19% said that they did not believe they had sufficient assets to warrant estate planning. Both of these myths persist, despite the fact that the expense of not having an estate plan is usually far more significant and the fact that estate planning is not only about protecting your assets, it is about protecting your family. Rich or poor, you need to provide for your family after your death.

Remember, you have an estate plan! We all do. It is either the one we create or the one created for us by the State. The State also charges for its plan – in the form of significant probate and conservatorship costs and fees – and those charges typically far outweigh what you would pay an attorney to draft your estate plan. Also remember that the State’s estate plan (i.e., its intestacy laws) is a one-size fits all that might not be consistent with your wishes. Far better for you to take care of your family than leave this task to the government. You know what is best for your kids, who should raise them if you are not around, how much they should inherit and when. You know how you wish to be treated by a hospital or other medical provider if you are terminally ill or injured. You know who should handle your finances if your children are young and you are no longer capable. If you do not yet have an estate plan, get one done! It is an act of responsibility and kindness toward your loved ones. They will appreciate not having to undergo the emotional and financial nightmare that often results when a family member dies with no estate plan. There is no time like the present.