Survey: Americans lack will to make wills or talk about them

WASHINGTON — No one likes to think about wills, living trusts or anything that deals with mortality, and a new survey shows that lots of Americans are still avoiding the issue. CBS News reports that only 56 percent of American parents have a will or living trust, and more than half of adults don’t know where their parents’ estate documents are or what’s in them.

The numbers come from a survey of 1,000 adults.

“Wills and estate documents can be a touchy subject, but they are necessary conversations to have. Too often the surviving family members are left not knowing where to find the documents, or worse, have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process because no documents were ever created,” CEO Andy Cohen tells CBS News.

More than a quarter of parents in the survey don’t have estate documents in place, and 16 percent of adults were unsure whether their parents do.

The survey asked people, “Do your parents currently have estate documents such as will or living trust in case of their death?” (Courtesy

The survey says that 18- to 49-year-olds are least informed about their parents’ wishes, CBS says, but while the numbers get better as children age, 44 percent of those 65 and older still don’t know what’s in their parents’ documents.

“This is clearly not just a millennial issue,” Cohen says. “It’s sad to say, but most middle-aged Americans will likely have a parent who is nearing the end of their life.

“Remember, your parents are going to have bank accounts, a house and other assets that will need to be taken care of in a timely manner. Having the documents in place before tragedy strikes will make the aftermath much less stressful and will save money in the long run.”

The survey also found that women know more about their parents’ wills than men, and parents of Republicans are more likely than those of Democrats or independents to have a will or living trust.

The survey, conducted from March 5 to March 8, involved 500 landline interviews and 500 cellphone interviews and has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

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