60% of Americans Have Not Made a Will

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Every one of us knows that death is inevitable. And it seems that most of us would prefer not think that the inevitability of death applies to us.

A recent survey of 1,000 Americans found that 58% do not have an estate planning document like a will or living trust, and for those with children under the age of 18, 62% have no end-of-life plan.

None of us wants to think about dying, so maybe procrastinating about making a will seems like a way to dodge the inevitable. But because no one knows for sure when death will come knocking, making a plan sooner rather than later will help relieve both emotional and financial anxiety if the timing doesn’t work out the way we hope it will.

The older you are, the better your chances of having made out a will. More than 80% of Americans 72 years of age or older have a will or living trust. A nearly equal number of millennials — 78% — have neither.

Partly that’s due to younger people thinking that they’ll live forever. More important, though, is a belief among younger people that their sparse assets are of little value. But if you don’t have a will, the state you live in has one for you.

It’s called probate, and while every state is different, in general probate publicizes your death and gives creditors an opportunity to file claims against your estate. Assuming you have enough to pay those debts, whatever is left over is distributed either as the law specifies or as you specify. Without a will, the state will distribute your estate according to the law.

For more details on wills and related documents, visit Caring.com.