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Less than Half of Adults in the U.S. have a Will

Recent research from the United States has found that only 42% of adults have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust in place. The percentage is even lower among those with children under age 18 (36%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report from found that as age increases, so does the likelihood of having estate planning documents. Just one in five millennials (ages 18-36) has a will or living trust. For Generation X (37-52 year-olds), the figure is 36%, and it’s 58% for Baby Boomers (ages 53-71). For those aged 72 and over, 81% apparently have a will or living trust.

Among those who don’t have estate documents, the main reasons given include: “I just haven’t gotten around to it” (47%) and “I don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone” (29%).

Medical/health care powers of attorney are more common than wills/living trusts. Around 53% of U.S. adults have granted someone legal authorisation to make decisions on their medical care if they are unable to do so. The likelihood increases with age, from 41% of millennials to 83% of those aged 72+.

Interestingly, the report also analysed the results by political affiliation, and found that Republicans, Democrats and independents are all essentially as likely to have health care powers of attorney (55%, 53% and 54%, respectively). There’s a big difference when it comes to wills, however. Around 58% of Republicans have one compared to just 38% of Democrats and 37% of independents.

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