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Survey: Americans Think New York Wills and Estate Planning Important, But They Don’t Do It

A new study found that a majority of Americans recognize the importance of setting up a will or estate planning, yet few have the necessary documents in place, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Planning a will or establishing a trust is an important step for anyone, regardless of age. People tend to think that putting together a will or planning a trust or estate is a far-off duty, one that can be put off. But death can happen at any time and people must prepare to divide their assets among surviving family members so they aren’t forced to squabble about it after you die. If not handled properly in life, survivors may turn to a contested will in New York to straighten things out. That can be contentious and cause hurt feelings and anger in a family that can be settled with proper planning.
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According to the survey, 60 percent of Americans surveyed believe all adults should have a will or estate planning documents in place, yet only 44 percent reported they have that paperwork readied. Yet more than one third — about 36 percent — with minor children don’t believe that wills or estate plans are among the most important documents to have on hand. Rather, they believe that birth certificates (76 percent) and titles and deeds for property and vehicles (70 percent) are more critical.

While 75 percent of parents with children in the household understand that a court will decide who the children’s legal guardian becomes if there is no will at the time of both parents’ deaths, shockingly only 39 percent have any estate planning documents in place.

“The 2011 EZLaw Wills & Estate Planning survey shows parents may not be taking the necessary steps to ensure their wishes for the care of their children and estate are followed in the event that both parents were to pass, for example due to an accident,” said David Palmieri, vice president and managing director of Marketing and Consumer Solutions at LexisNexis.

Some of the common reasons given for not making a will or estate planning a priority vary. About 37 percent of those surveyed cited a focus on “essentials,” such as paying bills and buying groceries, as the top reason for not planning for their assets. Other reasons include:

  • Not necessary (18 percent)
  • Too complicated to deal with right now (16 percent)
  • Too expensive (14 percent)
  • Belief that their spouse and children will automatically receive any assets they have (13 percent)
  • Too time consuming (6 percent)

Americans 18-34 years old are more likely to report they are more concerned with their health (64 percent), having money to retire (52 percent) and maintaining their weight (51 percent) rather than protecting their financial assets (44 percent). One in five Americans in that age range believe that wills are less important because people live longer, healthier lives.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman handles wills and estate planning in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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