Americans still plan for their estate and financial legacy by the seat of their pants.
According to a survey from Chicago-based BMO Wealth Management, more than half of Americans don’t even have a formal estate plan, and those who do often fail to talk about their plans with their families.
The survey, whose results appear in a report titled “Estate Planning for Complex Family Dynamics,” found that 52 percent of Americans do not have a will in place.
In its report, BMO found that most respondents planned to leave each of their heirs equal portions of their assets, and that spouses and children were most often indicated as heirs, yet sizable minorities planned to distribute their estate unequally (between 5 and 15 percent, depending on marital status) or would not leave an inheritance at all (between 7 and 20 percent).
BMO believes such plans could cause division within families if not properly communicated to heirs ahead of a client’s death, nevertheless, 40 percent of the survey’s respondents had not discussed their estate intentions with their children. Only one-in-three respondents said that their heirs were aware of the locations of estate planning documents like a will or powers of attorney.
The failure to discuss plans appears to be generational, as only 28 percent of the respondents said that they had estate planning discussions with their parents.