Senior woman signing her last will and testament.

Four in 10 people believe they do not have enough assets to make a will, according to’s 2024 Wills and Estate Planning Study, which surveyed more than 2,400 individuals.

This statistic reflects a common misconception about estate planning: that it is only for the wealthy.

In reality, estate planning can benefit people across the economic spectrum. Involving more than passing on wealth, estate planning also encompasses planning for aging, illnesses, or injuries, which can be unpredictable. Estate planning allows individuals to make crucial decisions, such as who will care for their children if they pass away or what kind of care they would prefer to receive in their later years.

What Is a Will, and Why Do I Need One?

A will stands among the most basic of estate planning documents. In a will, you can specify who receives your possessions upon your death. This could include friends, family members, nonprofit organizations, or other entities. Having a valid will in place can help your loved ones avoid potential arguments over your assets, such as real estate or any items you had of sentimental value.

In this legal document, you also name someone to follow the instructions you have outlined. If you have minor children, you can appoint someone you trust as their guardian in your will. Likewise, you may put plans in place in your will for your pets should you pass away.

Keep in mind that you should update your will and the rest of your estate plan when significant changes happen in your life. For example:

  • Welcoming a new grandchild
  • Moving to a new state
  • Filing for divorce

More People Are Saying They Do Not Have Enough Assets

The annual survey sheds light on Americans’ views about estate planning, highlighting the misconceptions that may delay or prevent them from planning.

From 2022 to 2024, the proportion of people saying they lack adequate resources to execute a will rose by 21 percent.

Compared with respondents with higher incomes:

  • Those with lower incomes were twice as likely to report not having enough assets to make a will.
  • People with less education were also more likely to cite insufficient assets. Forty-three percent of respondents with a high school diploma or less education said they did not have a will because they did not have enough to leave anyone.

Few Americans Have a Will

Interestingly, 64 percent of people surveyed said having a will is very or somewhat important.

Despite this:

  • Only 32 percent have a will as of 2024 — a 6 percent decrease from 2023.
  • In 2024, 14 percent more adults also indicated a lack of assets as a reason for not having a plan.

This situation highlights the need for awareness and understanding of New York estate law's 7 planning essentials and the importance of estate planning updates.

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial well-being, regardless of income or education level. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, reduces the burden on your loved ones, and provides for the smooth transfer of wealth. While the lack of assets may be a concern for some, it should not deter individuals from having a will. There are several affordable options available:

Estate planning workshops or seminars offered by community organizations or financial institutions

By taking advantage of these resources, individuals can overcome the perceived barrier of insufficient assets and ensure that their wishes are documented and followed after their passing.

Moreover, it is important to regularly review and update your estate plan to reflect changes in your life circumstances such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, or acquisition of new assets. This will help avoid potential legal complications and ensure that your plan remains effective.

In conclusion, regardless of income or education level, having a will is essential for everyone. It is a proactive step towards securing your financial legacy and providing peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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