Massachusetts Estate Planning Statistics

As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning your life and day to day activities is important, but planning needs to extend beyond your life. Putting an estate plan in place ensures that your estate is distributed without conflict, headache, or burdening tax expenses when you pass.

How do Massachusetts residents fare when it comes to planning for the eventual distribution of their estate? How much do Bay Staters’ really know about the estate planning process? To find out, we conducted a statewide estate planning survey. The results may surprise you.

What Percent of Massachusetts Residents Have An Estate Plan?

Massachusetts Residents Without an estate plan

Approximately only 37% of Massachusetts residents have some form of estate plan. As expected, the likelihood of having an estate plan in place increases with age. Roughly 81.25% of individuals aged 54 and over have an estate plan. Individuals aged 45 to 54 were split evenly while 37.5% of individuals aged 35-44 have an estate plan. Younger residents were far less likely to have an estate plan in place. Approximately 18.75% of individuals aged 25-34 have an estate plan and 16.67% of individuals aged 18-24 have one.

Interestingly enough, past mishaps don’t seem to be a strong enough motivator for creating a plan. Our study found that 44.83% of respondents who have either experienced or know someone who has experienced conflict from lack of a plan, still haven’t created a plan.

What Is Keeping Massachusetts Residents From Creating An Estate Plan?

not enough assets for an estate plan

Unfortunately, a significant portion of residents have fallen for the myth that you need wealth to create an estate plan. Roughly 35.14% of residents who don’t have an estate plan cited not having enough assets as the deterrent for creating a plan. Another 27.03% just haven’t gotten around to planning yet and 16.22% believe their spouse or kids will take care of the estate.

What Is The Greatest Benefit of Having An Estate Plan?

biggest benefit of an estate plan

Approximately 63% of Massachusetts individuals believe the greatest benefit of estate planning is earning peace of mind knowing that family members are protected from unnecessary stress and expenses. Residents seem to be very keen on the fact that proper estate planning can reduce the financial costs and stress that comes with probate and taxes. However, many of the other benefits estate planning can provide, don’t seem to be as well known.

Massachusetts Residents May Not Be Aware How Beneficial An Estate Plan Is

While an overwhelming majority of respondents were aware that estate plans can be used to reduce or eliminate estate taxes and appoint an individual to handle finances in the event of incapacity, there were several benefits that weren’t as widely known. Approximately 69% of respondents weren’t aware that an estate plan could be used to facilitate the transfer of a business. Another 67% of respondents were unaware that an estate plan could be used to provide medical care instructions in the event of incapacity and 61% didn’t know that an estate plan could be used to cover funeral expenses.

Reduction or elimination of tax on an estate is far from being the only function a plan provides. There are ultimately many benefits to create a plan. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, a plan can also be used to protect your children’s property, appoint a legal guardian for minor children, and protect assets from creditors.

Are Existing Massachusetts Estate Plans Comprehensive?

social media estate plan

In short, not entirely. Of the respondents that do have an estate plan, 61.9% have more than just a will. However, 65.08% of plans don’t address social media profiles and digital accounts. In our modern digital world, the number of online profiles and accounts the average person has continues to grow. It’s important to document those accounts and outline how they should be handled after death. The last thing you want is to have family members scrambling to close accounts or trying to figure out if they should keep or remove your social media profiles.

Working With An Attorney Is Still The Most Popular Way To Create A Plan

creating estate plan with attorney

Approximately 63.4% of Massachusetts residents who have an estate plan created the plan with the help of an estate planning attorney. The other 36.6% created their plans using an online service. While online services have come a long way, they still have limitations. When you create a plan online by yourself, it’s easy for mistakes to be made. Certain mistakes may end up in court with will contests, which can cost loved ones dearly in expense and stress.

Is Estate Planning Confusing?

estate planning is confusing

According to 80% of Massachusetts residents, estate planning is confusing. That number may reduce in the coming years as 58% of respondents also reported interest in learning more about estate planning.

Interested In Learning More About Creating An Estate Plan?

If you’re considering creating an estate plan or are interested in learning more about the benefits and the process, you can browse our planning resource page. The resource page contains a video on the process, along with helpful handouts, and FAQs.

The estate planning attorneys at Eckert Byrne, LLC are here to answer any questions you may have. We encourage individuals at all stages in life to start planning for their future. Schedule a consultation today by filling out a contact form or calling (855) 743-3136.

Survey Methodology

150 Massachusetts residents were sent an 11 question survey on October 22nd, 2018. The results have a margin of error of 8 percentage points.

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