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Will Power: Why A Will Is So Important, And Why Most People Don’t Have One

If you’re 65 years old, you’ve probably considered your mortality at least once. But you probably haven’t written a will.

Exactly half of Americans 65 and older have failed to either write a will or keep it up to date, says a new poll from USLegalWills.com, a will-creating site. And yes, wills can expire just like meat and dairy products.

“One of the surprising pieces of data to come out of this survey is the number of Americans with out-of-date wills,” the site says. “Many people write a will hoping that it will last a lifetime, but changes in family situations like marriage, divorce, births and deaths can all render a will obsolete at best, and actually quite troublesome if not updated.”

Why you need a will

While most millennials don’t have a will, you might write that off as young people thinking they’re invincible. (And being poor.) But almost two-thirds of Americans 35 and older admit to not having a will or an up-to-date one.

“Everybody needs a will, even if you do not have a penny to your name today,” the site says. Regardless of your assets, income, or age, having a current will is crucial.

Without a will, the state you live in will handle your estate and assets regardless of how much or little you have. Many people admit they don’t have a will because they “don’t have anything” or “it’s obvious who will get” their things after they’re gone, no one has any idea of when they are actually going to die. Without your own guidelines in place, things might not work out how you want, and you may leave behind arguments over debts and mementos.

USLegalWills.com offers a nine-step, 30-minute will-writing service that eliminates the high price of lawyers many people may not need. (There are plenty of other templated options, including Nolo, Legalzoom, and Rocket Lawyer.) Whether you’re looking to create a living will or a last will and testament, the site makes getting a will in place cheap and simple — and you can always run it by a lawyer later if you feel the need. The site says it doesn’t offer legal advice, but does use the same will-making software that lawyers use.

More money, same problems

While age seems to be a factor in who has a will, income and assets don’t, according to USLegalWills.com. But those who are wealthy are less likely to have a current will.

“Most of us associate the need for a will with the acquisition of assets. One of the most commonly cited reasons for not having a will is that ‘I don’t have anything to leave,’” the site says. “Nearly one in five Americans earning between $100k-$150k have an out-of-date will.”

According to the poll, more than 70 percent of Americans don’t have a will in place or an updated will. USLegalWills says that many of those who don’t have wills admit that “writing a will is considered more difficult than it actually is.”

“If everybody knew that a will could be created in about 20 minutes, for less than $35, we would see more people writing wills,” the site says. “Once these decisions have been made, the actual process for writing a will is very simple, in fact, far more straightforward than filing your taxes.”

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