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Most think estate planning is important but haven't done it

Do you think estate planning is important? Most people quickly say yes, almost feeling like it's obvious that they need an end-of-life plan. Everyone will, eventually. They know that they have to take that step and get everything in order.

That fact was recently backed up by a survey, in which people were asked if they thought it was important to write a will. A full 76% of those asked said that it was. It's surprising that it's not even higher than that, to be honest, but the survey still shows that the majority of people know how important it is.

What the survey also found, though, was that most people haven't done it. The same people who said they thought writing a will was important also admitted that most of them -- about 60% -- had not gone ahead and written one.

Putting it off for later

A quick look at the statistics shows one reason that this disconnect occurs: People decide to put it off for later. Of those who were from 18 years old to 34 years old, a mere 18% had a will. Of those between 35 and 44, the percentage jumped to 34%. For those from 45 to 54, it moved up again to 39%. For the final group of 65 years old and above, it skyrocketed to 66%.

There are a few takeaways here. First, since each age group has a higher percentage, it's clear that young people think they can wait. As they hit retirement age, they start writing more wills because they know they're closer to needing them. The trouble here is that unexpected accidents happen all the time. People can't predict the age at which they will need a will. It's impossible.

The second takeaway is that only 66% of those 65 years old and older had a will, and that's far too small. Yes, it's the largest percentage, but that number should be 100%. It still means there are thousands and thousands of people in their late 60s, 70s and 80s who have no estate plan in place. Anyone who makes it to 80 is past the projected life expectancy, so that's a risk. It's a gamble.

Additional reasons

Without even digging into the statistics and what they mean, the survey directly asked people why they had no will. The answers were:

  • 50% - They had not gotten to it yet.
  • 22% - They did not think they had enough assets.
  • 6% - They did not know how.
  • 6% - They thought it would cost them too much.

Do you find yourself in any one of these groups? If so, consider just how important it is to write a will and make sure you know what steps you can take.

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