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Financial Literacy - Planning for your heirs
The will paradox
Three-quarters of Americans say everyone should have a will, but more than half don't have one.
Planning for your heirs

Americans' words and deeds about wills at odds

The likelihood that someone has a will increases with age, with those 50 and older most likely to have a will (63 percent do); ironically, 84 percent in this age group say every adult should have a will, and 90 percent would like to make their death as easy on their family as possible.

Ted Kurlowicz, attorney and professor of estate planning and taxation at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., says Bankrate's survey compares favorably to other surveys he's seen on the number of people without wills. "But there is still a big gap to be serviced between those who say they think adults need wills and those who actually have a will."

Do you agree with the following statements?
Total 18 to 34 35 to 49 50+
You want to make your death as easy on your family as possible and think having a will helps 85% 79% 88% 90%
Itís important for people with kids under 18 to get a will in order to appoint a guardian 83% 80% 84% 86%
Every adult needs a will 76% 65% 79% 84%
Youíre just going to let your family figure out what belongings of yours they want 35% 42% 32% 33%
Itís creepy to think about because you donít want to think about death 30% 38% 28% 24%
A will isnít that important to you because youíre planning on spending your money while youíre alive to enjoy it 23% 18% 22% 28%

"Similar to saving for retirement, we all know what we need to do, but put off doing it," says Edward Gjertsen, Illinois chapter president of the Financial Planning Association. "Another interesting element is the lack of correlation between income level and responses. Across all income levels, the vast majority stated every adult needs a will. Whether through education or experience, individuals of all socioeconomic backgrounds are aware of the importance of having a will." 

That 80 percent of those in the 18-to-24 age range feel that it's important for people with kids younger than 18 to have a will impresses Gjertsen. "Pretty prescient for the younger 'Me' generation," he says.

-- Posted: Nov. 19, 2007
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