Survey Finds More Than Half of Americans Do Not Have a Will

Law Firm Newswire



San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 25, 2017 – A recent study revealed concerning data about the number of American adults who lack key estate planning documents.

Among the 1,003 adults surveyed, 58 percent admitted to not having a will or living trust in place. As expected, the likelihood of having estate planning documents increased with age. While 81 percent of individuals aged 72 or older said they had a will or trust, the same was true for only one out of five millennials.

The findings showed that the most common excuses for lacking estate planning documents were not getting around to creating them or not having enough assets, especially among young adults. According to the survey, 29 percent of people said they do not have a will because they “don’t have enough assets to leave anyone.” Many experts attribute an aversion to end-of-life planning to fear and procrastination.

“There is a misconception that creating a will can be put off until later in life,” said nationally known estate planning attorney Michael Gilfix. “Many individuals simply do not want to think about their own death. However, setting up key estate planning documents is necessary regardless of assets or age. Doing so will not only ensure your wishes are carried out when you are no longer around, but it will also save loved ones from a lot of anguish.”

Wills are important because they specify how one’s assets should be distributed upon death. For parents, the document also serves the crucial purpose of nominating a guardian to care for their children rather than having a court decide. Surprisingly, only 36 percent of survey respondents with children under 18 said they have devised an end-of-life plan.

For the vast majority, living trusts make even more sense. Trusts, unlike wills, ensure the avoidance of probate when properly funded.

The study also surveyed people about health care powers of attorney. The results revealed demographic disparities once again. Eighty-three percent of those over 72 have a power of attorney in place to make medical decisions on their behalf in case of incapacity. In contrast, the same holds true for only 41 percent of millennials.