Investors shun the uncomfortable truths of estate planning

You can’t take your wealth with you, but many are uncertain where it will go

Investors shun the uncomfortable truths of estate planning
Steve Randall

We’re not generally comfortable talking about death, especially our own, but a significant share of investors is avoiding involving their families in estate planning.

A pulse survey of investors in Alberta by ATB Wealth has found that one-in-five are uncomfortable planning for or talking to their family about their death, although 63% have created a will for peace of mind.

"Wills, estates, and beneficiaries are all subjects people steer away from discussing, even with their own families," said Chris Turchansky, President of ATB Wealth. "And that's not a surprise, since it means having to face the uncomfortable topic of death."

The survey found that, aside from estate planning, the topic of money is not one that many families are comfortable with either; just 35% said they talk openly about money compared with 39% who don’t.

Asked if their parents have a current will, 52% of respondents believe that they do but one third have never talked about that with their parents.

"Having a will is about so much more than money," said Turchansky. "It's about peace of mind and ensuring your funeral wishes are understood and that your family is clear on your financial plan so they aren't left to guess. Asking a family member for advice might be the first place people turn, but it's important to include a professional to understand exactly what should be covered in a legal will."

Hey kids, meet my FA
Seven-in-ten Albertans with children surveyed who have a will have talked to their kids about a will, but a much smaller proportion have discussed the document's financial impact (39%).

Among those with children over 18, 28% have introduced their children, to their financial advisor and 22% have discussed with their children how to best manage their inheritance.

Just 54% of parents said they are confident they have prepared their children to be financially responsible.

For those who are not confident, 56% said that’s because their children are too young to understand, 25% said their kids aren’t interested, and 16% said they lack the financial knowledge to teach their children about financial responsibility.