|Britt Erica Tunick is an award winning financial journalist who has spent the past 17 years writing about virtually every aspect of finance.|
COVID Has Been a Wakeup Call Regarding the Importance of Wills
By Britt Erica Tunick
It would be nearly impossible to overemphasize the importance of having a will for individuals who have accumulated any sort of assets—particularly those with family members or other dependents who rely on them. And with the COVID-19 pandemic having reminded the world that life is finite and can be unexpectedly taken from any one of us at a moment’s notice, the importance of having one’s affairs in order, regardless of your age or the condition of your health, is more evident than ever before.
Despite this realization and the fact that 35 percent view having a will as more important after watching the pandemic play out over the past year, roughly two thirds of the population still don’t have a will or other important estate planning documents set up, according to the results of Caring.com’s 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study. But the findings weren’t all bad. Oddly enough, the pandemic seems to have spurred younger adults to get their affairs in order more than their older peers, with 63 percent of young adults more likely to have put a will in place over the past year than they were before the pandemic. In fact, individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 years-old are actually 16 percent more likely to have a will in place than people within the 35 to 54 year-old age range.
The two main reasons cited by people who have yet to put wills or estate planning documents into place are: (i) not having found the time, at 34.2 percent; and (ii) not having enough assets to necessitate such documents, at 28.1 percent. When it comes to the costs of not having a will in place, the reality is that there is no excuse not doing so. Failing to put a will and important estate documents into place opens you to the possibility that your assets will not go to the individuals you would like to leave them to, and will instead go where the state deems that they should go, that your estate will be held up in probate, which is time consuming and costly, and that that your heirs will be more heavily taxed than they need to be.
Following are a few things to consider when it comes to putting together a will or basic estate planning documents: