People may give a variety of different reasons why they delay the estate planning process. The cost involved is often one consideration. They know they may have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to achieve their estate planning goals, so they procrastinate about actually completing the process.
Although drafting estate planning documents does require an investment of both time and money, dying without an estate plan can easily be more expensive than planning ahead.
How much does it cost if someone dies intestate or without testamentary documents on record?
Probate can be more costly without a plan
Many estates will need to pass through probate court regardless of whether someone has testamentary documents or not. However, the degree of court oversight is typically far higher in cases where people die without paperwork on record. A typical estate with a plan in place will pay about 3.5% of its value in probate costs. The final cost for probate court when someone dies without a will can often add costs totaling between 3% and 8% of the value of the estate.
Additionally, the rules for estate administration when someone dies without a will are very black-and-white. Their property will pass to their spouse and their children in most cases. In other words, not only will they likely pay more for probate proceedings if they die without a will, but they will have no control over what happens with their property.
For many people, the expense and time involved in estate planning is worth the long-term savings and control the process grants. Knowing what happens if someone dies without a will may help people find the motivation to stop procrastinating and to start planning.