3 Turning Points That Trigger Americans to Write Wills

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Senior couple writing a will
Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Everybody knows the importance of writing a will, yet relatively few of us do it.

Less than half of Americans ages 50 and older who head a household have crafted a will, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Recently, officials at the center attempted to uncover the factors that might motivate the average person to write a will.

So, they looked over data gathered in a survey that asked more than 3,000 adults if they have a will, and why or why not. The survey was conducted via a panel run by the University of Chicago’s NORC (formerly the National Opinion Research Center).

Based on the results of the survey, the Center for Retirement Research says the top three reasons Americans write a will are:

  1. Having a child: 20%
  2. Losing a loved one, which raises concerns about mortality: 11%
  3. A parent, other family member or friend suggesting the importance of a will: 11%

There are several other reasons survey respondents said they finally got down to business and wrote a will. They are:

  • The death of someone close who didn’t have a will, resulting in issues: 8%
  • Getting married: 7%
  • Experiencing a medical scare or near-death experience: 5%
  • Buying a house: 4%
  • Birth of a grandchild: 3%
  • Getting divorced or separated: 2%

Of course, millions of people who probably should have a will simply do not tackle this important estate-planning document. There are many possible reasons why this is the case, but the top three responses from the survey are:

  • Just haven’t gotten around to it: 44%
  • Already named beneficiaries for financial assets such as 401(k) plans or life insurance: 19%
  • Not sure where to start: 12%

If you are not sure where to start or need help writing a will, online services such as Trust & Will can help you create estate planning documents from the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about other legal documents besides a will that might want to create, check out “8 Essential Legal Documents to Create Before It’s Too Late.”

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