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Why Ignoring the Need for an Estate Plan Can Cost You: Discover the Importance of Proper Planning

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Why Everyone Needs a Will

The Importance of a Will

  • A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after death.
  • It also documents your intentions regarding the guardian of any young children you may have.
  • Having a will is critical to an estate plan, which includes other end-of-life documents like a health care directive and power of attorney.
  • Creating a will helps you think about your values and legacy as you near retirement.

The Decline in Will Creation

Unfortunately, many people are ignoring the need for a will and other estate plan documents.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the percentage of people aged 70 and above with a will has declined from 72% in 2002 to 63% in 2018.

Consequences of Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will, the distribution of your assets is determined by state law.

For example, in Minnesota, the distribution of assets follows a specific order: spouse and/or children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

Reasons to Create a Will

While the state’s distribution order may seem reasonable to most people, there are still good reasons to create a will that expresses your intentions.

  • A will allows you to leave property to a friend or charity, specify certain items for certain people, or exclude someone from inheriting.
  • You can also appoint a specific person to handle your estate.

The Benefits of Having a Will

Creating a will increases the likelihood of leaving something behind for your heirs.

Research from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College shows that individuals without a will are more likely to die without leaving meaningful bequests, especially among Black and Hispanic individuals.

Having a will helps preserve the value of your assets after death and ensures that your bequest goals are met.


Creating a will is well worth the effort and should be done as soon as possible.

By having a will, you can have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, “Marketplace”; commentator, Minnesota Public Radio.

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