Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones: Only a third of Americans have a will, new study reveals

Estate planning is key to protecting assets if you or your partner dies or is involved in a medical emergency.

But according to a survey from only 32% of Americans have a will, the lowest rate in four years.

Amanda Wilson is an attorney who has practiced law in Estate Planning and Elder Law for 14 years.

The fact is that if something happens to you unexpectedly, it does end up being a court case and there can be a lot of infighting amongst family members, it’s already a huge trauma when somebody passes away young and unexpectedly. And anything that you can do to make that transition easier for your family should be done.”

But for young adults, those between 18 to 34 estate planning is on the rise.

In 2020 only 16 percent of the group had a will. That number has jumped to 24% in 2024. Also, estate planning amongst Black Americans has increased by 19% in the same time frame.

What helps, according to Amanda, is that Washington has very favorable laws when it comes to administering estates.

If you have a will that’s done correctly and is tailored to Washington laws, then it becomes a really easy process without the exorbitant legal fees and involved court processes and all of that. And it just allows the executor, who’s your agent that you’ve appointed to take care of your assets. It just allows them to do it on their own without having too much court oversight.”

The survey also revealed that 4 of 10 people say they don’t have a will because they are either procrastinating or say they don’t have the assets to require a will.

While 16% say they don’t have one – because it’s just too expensive.

“To do a basic will, you’re looking at a range of about $400 to $1000. The attorney you’re working with may have a package where they’ll do it for two people for a discounted rate,” says Amanda Wilson.