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Attorney and CPA

What percentage of Americans don't have a will?

Most people in the Lakeland area have probably heard the news that music icon, Prince Rogers Nelson, recently passed away. Prince was such an enormously famous star that his death transcended the music world and became mainstream news. So many interesting details will no doubt emerge as people examine Prince's life and his body of work.

One detail that has quickly come to the forefront is that Prince died without leaving a will. If someone like Prince -- who had a vast fortune with a variety of assets including rights to his music -- died without a will, how many other Americans don't have a will?

According to a survey last year from a legal services website, 64 percent of Americans don't have a will. Among those people from the survey who didn't have a will, the most common reason was that they simply hadn't taken the time to create one. Of course, people generally can't predict to a certainty when they are going to die, so waiting and waiting to create a will may not be a wise approach.

A will is not something that is only applicable for people who have huge sums of wealth. Anyone who owns a home, has a savings or investment account, or has any other kind of substantial asset, will likely have some idea of what they want to happen to those assets when they die. Without creating and executing a legally enforceable will, however, Florida residents leave their estate administration largely in the hands of the State and its intestacy laws.

The potential beneficiaries of Prince's estate will likely be mired in legal issues for years to come. Although most people in Polk County don't have anywhere near the amount of assets that are at issue in that case, that doesn't mean that they should neglect creating a will for their own estate. Most Americans don't want to think about their own mortality. But if a person has assets that they want to leave to their loved ones, or anyone else, they shouldn't put off the process of creating a will.

Source: USA Today, "Plan ahead: 64% of Americans don't have a will," Jeff Reeves, Accessed on May 2, 2016

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