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FindLaw Survey: Most Americans Don't Have a Will

Nearly 60 percent of Americans don't have a will, giving them little control or input into important issues like what will happen to their assets and their minor children after they die, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com.

A will is a basic component of estate planning. Among other things, it specifies how your assets will be distributed after you pass away, and who will receive them. Without a will, the laws of the state and the decisions of a probate court may determine how your estate is distributed, who will care for your children if they are minors, and so forth. FindLaw's survey found that people are more likely to have a will as they get older. More than half of Americans age 50 and older have a will. But the numbers steadily drop among younger adults. Only about a quarter of people between the ages of 25 and 34 have a will. Among Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, the figure drops to less than ten percent.

Read FindLaw's Press Release on the wills survey. You can also listen to a podcast of an interview with attorney Michael Jordan (author of the book Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements) on the importance of understanding the extent of your estate, and having a proper will in place.

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