Survey finds the aged and wealthy may have trouble planning their estates

Published 16 Aug 2013

A new survey has uncovered that wealthy individuals are growing more concerned about writing their wills, with respondents saying estate planning was the foggiest area of their financial planning as they grow older.

The study, conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education for Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, found that 34 per cent of wealthy investors believe estate planning is the biggest reason for them to turn to help from their financial advisor.

The results suggest a growing number of people are putting off writing wills and making financial planning decisions until later in life, when diminished capacity has shown to affect estate planning. The survey also found that of the respondents who are either suffering from dementia-related conditions themselves or have family members who are, 47 per cent have forgotten to pay their bills, or paid them late.

Another 36 per cent said common math problems had become more difficult, while 35 per cent had made irrational purchases. A startling 21 per cent even admitted they had spent a good portion of their savings.

“The negative consequences of families delaying or avoiding a conversation about the financial impacts of cognitive decline are too high to ignore,” said Ted Beck, president of NEFE.

The hindrances to estate planning

The survey found that 86 per cent of respondents said they trusted their family members to help them plan their wills and arrange their financials for them, but even still, these family members are the ones who are saying there are several blockages that make it more difficult to help plan an estate.

“Frequently there is defensiveness, denial, embarrassment and sibling rivalry when entering into a dialogue between adult children and a parent concerning their finances,” Mr Beck added.

“Families need to come together, clear the hurdles that limit communication, and do what needs to be done with advanced planning before aging family members start to experience these types of events.”

This lack of open communication is making it increasingly difficult to draft detailed wills that leave no room for interpretation. When vagueness or ambiguity is found in such official documents, it can lead to disputes that require the help of contesting wills lawyers to straighten out.

If you or a family member are currently contesting a will, it’s best practice to consult one of these professionals.

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