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Taxation & Estate Planning

: New Jersey Estate & Elder Planning Blog

Survey Says! Majority of Americans don't have Wills

By Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss, Esq.

Category: Estate Planning

In looking for some statistical evidence of the extent to which Americans don't have an estate plan, I came across this Lexis-Nexis Press Release: Majority of American Adults Remain Without Wills, New lawyers.comSM Survey Finds. Of note:

  • "[O]ver half (55 percent) of all adult Americans do not have a will, a new survey shows, a percent that has remained virtually unchanged over the past three years."
  • "Among non-white adults, the lack of wills is even more pronounced. Only one in three African American adults (32 percent) and one in four Hispanic American adults (26 percent) have wills, compared to more than half (52 percent) of white American adults."
  • "Living wills (also known as medical directives) have jumped in popularity since 2004. Two in five adults (41 percent) now have living wills in place, a full ten percent more than those who had one just three years ago. "
  • "[T]wo in five (38 percent) American adults report assigning a power of attorney for healthcare purposes, compared to 27 percent in 2004."

Any for answers to the key question "Why don't you have a Will?" Survey Says! the top three are:

"? Ignorance is bliss: One in ten (10 percent) American adults who do not have any elements of an estate plan say it?s because they don?t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated.

? Where to begin?: Similarly, nearly one in ten (9 percent) adults say they don?t have an estate plan in place because they don?t know who to talk to about creating such documents. This percentage nearly doubled from 2004 (5percent).

? But I don?t need a will: Nearly one in four (24 percent) of adults say their biggest reason for not having an estate plan is a lack of sufficient assets. This was also the top reason cited in the 2004 survey (21 percent)."

Ah, but since a Will is the only place to name guardians for your children, shouldn't that be "sufficient"?

Full post as published by New Jersey Estate & Elder Planning Blog on May 05, 2008 (boomark / email).

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