Many Americans are unaware of the various benefits associated with estate planning. But who can blame them? Many Americans age without learning about the benefits of saving, investing, or estate planning. What many Americans have come to believe is that estate planning is a tool for the wealthy. The ones that actually have “estates.”

This old way of thinking has to lead to only 40% of Americans having a will, and 17% having a trust.

It’s time to bust that myth because estate planning is for everybody. It’s a planning tool for parents who wants to assign a guardian for their children, any homeowner who wants to transfer ownership to their beneficiary upon death, or a business owner that wants to keep the business in the family.

Wills and trusts serve different purposes, but for many families, both can be beneficial.

How does America view estate planning?

Wealth Counsel conducted a survey to determine what Americans really think about estate planning. The overarching takeaway is that 74% of those surveyed agreed that estate planning is a confusing topic. Much of this confusion came back to the thinking that estate planning equals wealth. This simply isn’t true, but 49% of respondents stated the value of their assets doesn’t justify protecting them with a will or a trust.

Even more confusing than a will, is a trust. Trusts have numerous benefits and avoid the long and stressful probate process. With a living trust, you can make adjustments on the fly until the time fo your death, as long as you are mentally capable. As a will pass through months of probate and becomes public information when entered into court, a trust remains confidential and is legal at your moment of passing. 

The lack of knowledge about a revocable living trust led to 61% of respondents believing that a will would cover all of their estate planning needs.

If you want to learn more about how estate planning can benefit your unique situation, consider contacting an estate planning attorney, as 74% of the surveyor agreed on the value of professional guidance when venturing into uncharted territory. As Americans, we are smart people and deserve to have our families and assets protected and cherished.