57% of Americans Do Not Have a Will; 69% of Parents Have Not Named Guardians for Their Children

Bankrate, Inc. (Nasdaq: RATE) has published the findings of a national poll which found that 57% of consumers do not have a will. Furthermore, 69% of parents with children under the age of 18 are not prepared with a will. The poll is included in this month’s segment of Bankrate’s Financial Literacy Series: Planning for your heirs, which provides information, tips and advice to consumers on wills, trusts, and estate planning. To view Bankrate’s Financial Literacy 2007 – Guide to Building Personal Wealth, go to http://www.bankrate.com/financialliteracy.

Although poll results show that Americans realize the importance of having a will (76%), many simply don’t follow through. Forgoing a will could have major implications. Without a will, the state decides how property gets distributed, heirs will likely fight over property, and parents won’t have a say about who will care for their children. [Editor’s Note: To be sure this does not happen to your children, click here.]

“Having a will is the ultimate gift for your family,” said Julie Bandy, editor-in-chief of Bankrate.com. “It clearly states your intentions, wishes and in the long run will save your heirs money and hassle,” Bandy added.

Key findings of the poll include:

— Although three-quarters of poll respondents say everyone needs a will,
57 percent say they haven’t got one.
Even worse, 69 percent of parents with children under the age of 18
don’t have a will — and 88 percent of them said they believe a will is
important in order to appoint guardians.

— The incidence of wills increases with respondents’ age: Of those 50 and
older, 63 percent have a will, although 84 percent say every adult
should have one, and 90 percent of that age group say they want to make
their death as easy on their families as possible.
— Among those with a will, 71 percent used an attorney to help draft it;
14 percent wrote their own, 7 percent used software, and 2 percent
bought documents from an office supply store. 6 percent of the
respondents didn’t specify.
— Responses were similar across all income levels.

Bankrate poll: This national random-digit-dialed phone study of 1,010 adults 18 or older was conducted for Bankrate by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. The surveys were conducted from October 26, 2007 through October 28, 2007. The sample was weighted by demographic factors including age, gender, race, education and census region to ensure reliable and accurate representation of adults in U.S. households. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points.

SOURCE: Bankrate.com in a story by Cheryl Allebrand