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Do Americans really care about estate planning?

In 2016, WealthCounsel, an estate planning and guidance company, conducted a study to understand what Americans really know and what they think about estate planning. The most common response, by over half of the respondents, believed estate planning is only for the wealthy and isn't necessary for the everyday American.

Anybody who believes wills and trusts are not needed has been misguided. A proper estate plan can be vital to people of any income level, because these planning tools aren't always about divvying up a large inheritance or property. An estate plan could be used to designate a guardian for your child or assign your home to a beneficiary in the event of your death. A proper estate plan can also be beneficial for business owners who want to ensure their business stays within the family as generations come and go.

Many Americans are unaware of the benefits cited above, which has led to only 40% of Americans having a will and 17% having a trust.

As the report cited, most Americans are more than anything, confused about estate planning. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents, affirmed that estate planning is a confusing topic to grasp. This led to the following results.

  • 47% believed that estate planning is only necessary for the ultra-rich
  • 49% said their assets weren't worth enough to even consider an estate plan
  • A mere 3% mentioned the word "trust" - which is typically only associated with the wealthy, but can be part of any estate plan
  • 61% said that a will, will cover all their estate planning needs

Considering that the details of creating a comprehensive estate plan was not part of the education curriculum for most Americans, it's not a surprise that confusion is increasingly present. Therefore, an estate planning attorney can act as a necessary guiding light and make sure you and your family's assets that you hold dear, however large or small, are protected in the future.

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