Black Americans Are Lagging Behind In The Great Wealth Transfer
Getty Images

We were shocked and puzzled when news broke that Prince didn’t have a will upon his passing. Same for Chadwick Boseman and Aretha Franklin. Many of us wondered why such presumably wealthy stars failed to plan their estates.  

Unfortunately, this is more common in the Black community than we think. 

$70 trillion is estimated to transfer between 2018 and 2042, and 75% of Black Americans aren’t ready for that money migration. This is especially concerning since Black households only have 12 cents per 1 white household dollar and estate planning could help to close this gap.  

A 2021 survey by estimates only 27% of Black Americans have a will, the central document of an estate plan. partnered with YouGov to conduct a survey of 2,500 Americans to determine who is engaging in estate planning, and why or why not. In the 2021 survey, it was found that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased people’s desire to get a will (35% saw a greater need), the overall percentage of people with a will hasn’t changed since last year – 2 out of 3 still don’t have crucial estate planning documents. In the wake of COVID-19, said it’s important to provide education to help Americans both see the need, and understand what steps to take to ensure that they have a proper estate plan in place. 

Brickson Diamond, Co-Founder and Board Chair of Black House Foundation said in a CNBC interview that Black people need to start thinking about estate planning now so they don’t get left behind. 

“So many families lose their family access and ownership of land,” he said. “So if you haven’t prepared to pay the taxes and get the mortgage covered … the home will at best fall into disrepair and at worst fall out of the hands of the family.” 

Despite COVID-19, the overall prevalence of estate planning hasn’t substantially changed since 2020, and is still considerably lower than in previous years.  While there was a slightly greater number of people who said they have a will or another estate planning document since 2020, it’s minimal with only a 2.5% increase since last year. Additionally, the overall percentage is still down since 2017 (33% in 2021, vs. 42% in 2017).