Study: More than half of Americans don't have a will

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new study shows many adults are putting off getting their affairs in order before they die.

The report from shows six in ten U.S. adults don't have a will.

Among those who don't have estate documents in place the main reason was said to be because they haven’t gotten around to it.

John Gustafson in Eau Claire said he is among the more than half of adults who don’t have a will.

“Neither my wife or I have a will, or a living will, although it is something we've discussed that we should get done,” explained Gustafson.

Gustafson said it would be nice to get done but that it’s “just not something we've gotten around to doing yet.”

Attorney Laurie Klinkhammer at Nodolf Flory, LLP said it comes as no surprise that only 42-percent of American adults currently have a will or living trust and that the percentage is even lower among those with children under the age of 18 at just 36-percent.

“When you have young children it's really hard to think about the fact that you might not be there to raise them so a lot of time people will avoid thinking about that at all and so avoid doing anything to take care of that,” said Klinkhammer.

However, Klinkhammer says having a will or living trust before tragedy strikes will help make decisions less stressful.

“The important part of will is that idea that you get to say what happens,” explained Klinkhammer. “You get to say where your assets go after your death. You get to say who are the people in charge of overseeing your will and you get to say who the people are who are going to be appointed as guardians of your children.”

She says for the most part it doesn't have to be too much of a chore.

Klinkhammer added, “In terms of difficultly it is actually fairly simple, straight forward process and any estate planning professional can help you through that process.”

Klinkhammer says there is a difference between a living will, which focuses on healthcare decisions if you're unable to make them yourself, and a typical will which deals with your assets.

She says both are equally important and should be addressed sooner rather than later.

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