Most Americans Don't Have a Will, Says FindLaw Survey
EAGAN, Minn., June 30, 2008 -- Nearly 60 percent of Americans don't have a will, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com, the Web's most popular legal information Web site. Fifty-eight percent of American adults have not written a will, giving them little control or input into issues such as what will happen to their assets and any minor children after they die.
A will is a basic component of estate planning. Among other things, it specifies how your assets will be distributed after you pass away, and who will receive them. Without a will, the laws of the state and the decisions of a probate court may determine how your estate is distributed, who will care for your children if they are minors, and so forth.
The survey found that people are more likely to have a will as they get older. More than half of Americans age 50 and older have a will. But the numbers steadily drop among younger adults. Only about a quarter of people between the ages of 25 and 34 have a will. Among Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, the figure drops to less than ten percent.
Attorney Michael Jordan, author of the book Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements, talks about the importance of having a will in a new podcast. "You need to determine what you want to have happen after you die and what your family's needs are," Jordan said. "You also need to have a good feel for what your estate consists of, whether it's just a few accounts or more complicated."
The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced telephone survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percent. Additional free information on wills, trusts and estate planning, including information on finding an attorney in your area who specializes in estate planning, and do-it-yourself forms, can be found at http://estate.findlaw.com/estate-planning/.
To listen to the podcast with Michael Jordan about estate planning, go to http://commonlaw.findlaw.com/files/WestcastEstate.mp3. Jordan, a shareholder in the McNair Law Firm in Hilton Head, South Carolina, also authored the book, Durable Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives, 4th edition. More information on the 5th edition of the CD-ROM version of "Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements on Ghostfill" is available at http://west.thomson.com/productdetail/126796/40285997/productdetail.aspx.
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