Jul 29, 2008

Most Americans Don't Have a Will: Don't Feel Guilty, Get Busy

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For years, I've told my clients to stop feeling guilty that they haven't done an estate plan yet and feel good that they're making one -- most people never draft a will before they die.

A new survey published by Lexis-Nexis recently backed me up. The Harris Interactive poll, conducted for Lawyers.com, surveyed 1,018 adults and found that more than half (55%) of them didn't have a will. Only one in three African American adults (32%) had a will. Only one in four Hispanic Americans (26%) had a will.

Why do so many people persist in acting like they're immortal? Here are the top reasons identified in the survey:

  • People don't like to think about dying.
  • People don't know how to get started or who to talk to about an estate plan.
  • People think that they don't have enough assets to need one.
For the record: We all die. There are terrific self-help products out there to help you get a will done, and there's no minimum asset requirement for leaving behind a valid will -- no matter what you've got, it's important to name guardians for minor children and clearly state your wishes with regard to how your property is to be distributed.

So, what's holding you back now?