Study after study has shown that many Americans do not have estate plans. BMO Wealth Management has released a new study that confirms those results.
Its study found that 52% Americans do not have a will. Although the study found that most respondents wanted to leave their estates to their spouses or to have their estates equally distributed between their children, it found that many people wanted to do something else.
Doing anything else, in almost all cases, requires getting an estate plan that at a minimum, includes a will.
However, the study found some other results that are more concerning, as Financial Advisor reported in "Most Americans Still Avoid Estate Planning, Study Says."
One of the most important ways that family fights over an estate can be avoided, is to communicate with heirs about plans for the estate. This lets heirs know what to expect and why.
This study found that 40% of respondents had not discussed their estate plans with their heirs. However, it also found that only 28% of the people surveyed had discussed their parents' estate plans with them. Additionally, 40% of the people believed that their parents' estate plans had been unfair.
When children believe that their parents' estate plans are unfair and those plans have not been discussed with the parents, you have the basic ingredients for a fight between family members over an estate.
Avoiding these fights can often be simple as having an estate plan, telling children what it is and telling children why the parents believe the plan is fair.
Reference: Financial Advisor (April 7, 2017) "Most Americans Still Avoid Estate Planning, Study Says."