60 Percent of Americans Have No Will. Here’s Why…

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60 Percent of Americans Have No Will. Here’s Why…

By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
October 25, 2018

60 Percent of Americans Have No Will. Here’s Why…

The majority of Americans do not have a will because, let’s be honest, no one wants to think about death. It can be depressing – and even scary – to consider.

However, having a will protects your family and spares them additional grief once you are gone. In a recent blog series, we covered 14 different potential dangers awaiting those who wish to self-diagnose, ignore, or avoid estate planning.

Here, we will cover the reasons why people don’t set up wills – and why they should.

Why People Don’t Set Up Wills

Only about 40 percent of adults have a will or living trust set up. People with children under the age of 18 are even less likely to have those plans in place.

Why?

Sure, not wanting to think about death is part of it, but there’s more going on here:

Procrastination. Most people say they know they need to set up a will, but they just haven’t gotten around to setting one up. However, none of us know how old we will be when we die. Procrastination can cause big problems if an unexpected death occurs.

The impact of age. About 80 percent of Americans over the age of 72 have prepared legal documents that direct their assets. However, younger demographic groups are far less likely to have these plans settled. Consider these stats:

40 percent of Baby Boomers aged 53 to 71 do not have wills

64 percent of Generation Xers aged 37 to 52 do not have wills

78 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 36 do not have wills

Bottom line? The younger a person is, the less likely they are to think that their death could happen at any time. Even adults in their 50s don’t like thinking that they have maybe a couple decades left, but that’s the average lifespan.

Finances. Another problem is that younger Americans lack the financial assets that older Americans are more likely to have. Some people mistakenly believe that wills are necessary only if a person is financially solvent. These misguided beliefs often lead to additional emotional stresses for grieving family members if there is no will when the person ultimately does pass.

Why Everyone Needs a Will or Trust

Wills or trusts prevent a court from taking the reins in distributing your assets. If you don’t have end-of-life plans in place, the court has full power to decide how your assets are distributed, and this may not match your wishes.

Your will lets you dictate exactly who gets your assets, no matter how much or how little you may have. It also tells the court who should become a legal guardian of your minor children if both parents die. This is a crucial issue that parents must consider.

Wills can also include a health care power of attorney, which allows a loved one to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not capable. Around half of Americans have a power of attorney in place. Once again, older Americans are far more likely to have one than younger Americans. However, it’s wise to get one before you enter your later years, because tragic accidents can happen at any time.

To protect your family, consult with an estate planning attorney to set up your will. Most attorneys can draw up a straightforward will and power of attorney for an affordable fee. However, each family’s financial situation and assets are different, and you need to sit down with a qualified attorney to make sure all your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Author:
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Haimo Law
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
Email: barry@haimolaw.com
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