- Only 28 percent of adults said they knew about their parents' estate distribution plans or details of their Wills and executor selections.
- 25 percent of married adults reported that only their spouse knows the location of their Wills and Powers of Attorney.
The report – titled Estate Planning for Complex Family Dynamics – surveyed 1,008 Americans age 18 and older about their views on inheritance, communication about estate planning within their families, and care issues as they grow older. Two-thirds of the respondents had adult or minor children. The results were then cross-referenced with family relationship status to see if complexity of family relationships affects the approach to estate planning.
“As family dynamics become more complex, the potential for conflict to play out after a death increases,” said
When asked if their parents had shared their estate distribution plans or details of their Wills and executor selections, only 28 percent of respondents indicated having had these discussions. Additionally, 40 percent of those surveyed felt that the distribution of their parents' estates was not fair, with unmarried respondents most likely to indicate this.
The report also found that 25 percent of married adults indicate that only their spouse knows the location of their Wills and Powers of Attorney, with 52 percent reporting they do not have a Will in place. That percentage rose to 56 percent among those respondents age 35-54.
BMO offers the following financial planning tips:
Review your Will: Marital status changes, the birth of children and grandchildren, the purchase of life insurance, retirement, the receipt of an inheritance, and health changes are all reasons to re-evaluate a Will and estate plan.
Trusts: An additional level of privacy may be achieved through the use of living trusts and gifts (keeping the annual and lifetime gift tax limitations in mind), as a probated Will becomes a public document. There are tax considerations for this option, so the extra tax and administration costs need to be balanced with privacy concerns.
Taxes: Estate plans should include a focus on taxes to help achieve the fair after-tax distributions desired, and at the same time minimize the tax liability. Passing assets to a surviving spouse is a strategy that is often used as it can help to reduce and also defer estate taxes in the future.
To view a copy of the full report, which includes more financial planning tips and additional survey findings explored in detail, please visit: https://wealth.bmoharris.com/insights/
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