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5 Reasons People Delay Making or Updating Their Wills

Posted August 2016

When people focus on their estate plans, they often discover that they are capable of providing for loved ones and charities to a degree they had not supposed. But many people procrastinate. Here are five commonly cited reasons for delaying action on your will—and responses to each.

  1. “Everything my spouse and I own is in joint tenancy, so we really don’t need a will.”
    Although your home, automobiles, and bank accounts may be in joint tenancy, there are probably some things that are individually owned. Furthermore, a will is necessary to dispose of property at the death of the survivor or in the event both spouses die in a common incident.

  2. “We completed an estate plan with a very good attorney ten years ago, and our family circumstances have not changed since then.”
    Even if family circumstances are essentially the same, your assets—including those in retirement funds—have likely changed. Also, there have been significant changes in the law affecting gift and estate taxes, so additional planning options may now be available.

  3. “We have a living trust for the management and disposition of our assets.”
    It is highly unlikely that you have transferred everything you own to the living trust, so you need at least a “pourover will” that would transfer all non-trust property to the trust. Besides, a living trust, like a will, should be periodically updated.

  4. “Based on conversations with friends, developing an estate plan can be very expensive.”
    The cost may be less than you expect, especially if you do not have a complicated estate, but in any case the amount you spend now will be far less than the cost to your heirs without a thoughtful plan.

  5. “I’m just too busy at the present time. I expect to be around for a while, so I will do it later.”
    Procrastination when you have no will leads to state law determining the division of your property. Procrastination when you have an out-of-date will could unintentionally disinherit new family members or result in inequities that cause dissension.

An up-to-date plan brings peace of mind, honors your charitable values, and frees you to live fully without a nagging sense that something is undone.

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