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More Than Half of Americans Don't Have a Will, Says New Survey by FindLaw
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent survey
by the legal web site FindLaw (www.findlaw.com), 59% of American adults don't have
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 specifies how your assets will be distributed after you pass away, and
who will receive them, according to James Kosakow, an attorney in Westport, Conn.
specializing in estate planning. Without a will, he continues, 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.
"We work hard our whole lives to build a secure and comfortable life for ourselves
and our families," said Kosakow. "But many people lack even a simple will to provide
some control and planning for their estates after their passing. If, for example,
you want to donate certain property to a charity, leave certain property to a particular
loved one, or set up a trust for your children, it needs to be specified in a will
"In addition, if you have considerable assets, proper estate planning, including
a will, can often reduce the amount of estate taxes, leaving more of your estate
to your beneficiaries," said Kosakow. "Estate planning can also help your beneficiaries
by protecting estate assets from creditors, if the estate plan is properly structured."
The survey by FindLaw found that people are more likely to have a will as they
get older. Only 11% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 have drawn up a will.
Among people 54 and older, nearly three-quarters (71%) have wills. Retirees are
also far more likely to have wills than people who are working or are unemployed,
according to the survey. Factors such as income and education were not found to
be significant factors in predicting whether a person had drawn up a will.
Only a third of respondents with children (34%) said they had a will. "A will
is very important for determining the care of minor children," said Kosakow. "Items
such as who will be appointed as guardian for minor children, and the terms of trusts
for children, such as when the principal will be distributed to children, are essential
components of thorough estate planning.
"Anyone with significant assets, or with concerns about how their assets will
be distributed or the care of their minor children should consider consulting with
an attorney to review their estate planning and ensure their estate is in order,"
The national survey was conducted for FindLaw by the polling firm of Ipsos-Reid
Express using a representative sample of 1000 adults nationwide, with a margin of
error of plus or minus three percent.
SOURCE FindLaw Copyright © 2001 PRNewsWire. All rights reserved.
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