Only One in Three Americans Have a Will, Says New Survey

Only One in Six Younger Americans Have a Will

Feb 27, 2013, 05:20 ET from

EAGAN, Minn., Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Only one in three Americans – 35 percent -- have a will, according to a new survey by, the most popular legal information website. This means the vast majority of Americans could potentially be leaving legal problems for surviving family members if they should pass away. 

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 could determine how your estate is distributed, who will care for your children if they are minors, and so forth.

"By not having a will, you are essentially giving up any control or say into how your estate and your affairs will be handled after you're gone," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor for "Writing a will is sometimes a difficult and uncomfortable thing for people to do.  But with an attorney's help, it can be a fairly simple and fast process.  And it gives people control over their assets and the future of their family, and the peace of mind that can come along with that."

Age seems to play a major role in whether someone as a will. Three-quarters of people age 65 older have a will.  But the numbers drop steadily as you look at the younger age groups.  Less than half of the people age 54 or younger have a will.  And for people between the ages of 18 and 24, only about five percent have a will.

Additional free information on wills, trusts and estate planning, including information on finding an attorney in your area who specializes in estate planning, can be found at

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.


Michelle Croteau