Report: More than 60 Percent of Americans Fail to Engage in Proper Estate Planning

Although most Americans appear to know that they should engage in some form of estate planning, a clear majority have not taken any steps to protect their loved ones and assets.

According to a recent survey from, only about four in 10 adult Americans have established a living will and testament—the most basic estate planning document.

The good news is that 81 percent of people age 72 or older and 58 percent of Baby Boomers (those between the ages of 53 and 71) have prepared estate planning documents. Even these numbers, however, are lower than estate planning attorneys would like to see, although they do suggest that as people get older, they begin to confront the importance of having an estate plan established. In addition, 83 percent of people 72 and older do have a healthcare power of attorney in place, compared to just 41 percent of Millennials (people between 18 and 34).

People of all ages benefit from estate planning

Although sound estate planning becomes increasingly important as you reach retirement age, it’s also beneficial for younger people to engage in this process, as well. The survey found that 78 percent of Millennials and 64 percent of Gen-Xers (people between 35 and 52) do not have wills of their own.

The most common reason why people put off establishing wills until later in life is that they simply have not gotten around to it yet. They may also not believe they have enough assets to leave behind, and thus creating a will is unnecessary. Basically, there appears to be a lack of urgency among younger people regarding the need to create a will and a feeling that they can put it off until they get older.

This can be a big mistake. The following are just a few reasons why you are never too young to create an estate plan:

Estate plans don’t just protect your assets upon your death: If, for example, you get into a severe car accident and are unable to make certain decisions for yourself, having a living will or healthcare power of attorney in place can ensure someone you trust acts in your best interests.

You still have control over your assets: Even if you do not own real estate or many assets, you likely still want to have control over who gets your possessions. Your will may be simpler than that of an older person with a larger estate, but it still offers you the same benefits.

You never know when your time will come: None of us can predict how much time we have left on earth. It’s certainly understandable to assume that you have many years left ahead of you to create a will, but you can never truly know for sure. Thus, estate planning can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be upheld if the worst should occur.

To learn more about why you should create an estate plan of your own, consult an experienced New York attorney with Lissner & Lissner LLP.