Almost half of all parents don’t have a will. That’s a stunning number of people who haven’t put their final wishes in writing. A Princeton Survey Research Associates International’s poll for Caring.com asked adult children across the country for their knowledge about their parents having a will.
Here are some of the statistics:
* Forty-four percent of parents don’t have a will or living trust, period.
* Sixteen percent of adult children don’t know whether their parents have a will.
* Of those who know there is a will, half of adult children don’t know where to find those documents, and most don’t know what’s in them.
* Only 40 percent of parents have updated their wills within the past five years.
* One-quarter of adult children don’t know if the wills have ever been updated.
* More females than males know what’s in the wills, but men are more likely than women to know where the wills are.
* Older adults, who have older parents and therefore should be much more informed about the location and contents of wills, aren’t much better off than young adults. In the 50-64 age category, 38 percent don’t know what’s in the will and 29 percent don’t know where it is.
No matter your age, if you’re a parent, you need a will. Consider what happens if you suddenly pass away without having made written instructions about what’s to happen to your house, your financial accounts and all your other assets. Not only are you leaving your loved ones in a bad position at an emotional time, it’s also going to be expensive for them to sort out.
Dying without a will is called intestate, and each state has different rules about how your property will be divided. Those rules won’t necessarily coincide with your wishes.
If you consult an attorney about having a will written, ask about revocable living trusts laws in your state. It’s possible (not guaranteed) that your inheritors can avoid the delays of probate.
If you have a will, update it periodically to add or revoke provisions by having a codicil (an amendment) added to it.
Have all your important documents in one place: insurance policies; information about how to contact your attorney, CPA and financial adviser; and your will. And be sure your family knows where this information is stored.
(c) 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.