Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow -- Americans apparently are in no rush to think about their last days.

The newly released 2011 EZLaw Wills & Estate Planning survey shows a fairly significant disconnect between our ideals and our actions when it comes to preparing for our deaths. While 60% of those surveyed said they believe all adults should have estate plans, only 44% said they have one. Why? According to the survey, the chief reason people can't think about tomorrow is because they're too stressed about today, trying to pay bills and buy groceries. Secondly, they said they don't have estate planning documents because it is too complicated to deal with right now.

What would motivate them to get going? Well, 75% said they would be more likely to create or update their will if there was an easy, valid way to do so online.

Of particular note was the fact that women and younger folks (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to be concerned about maintaining their weight than protecting their financial assets. The the under-35 demographic also said that it is less important for people to have wills because people are living longer, healthier lives.

It's not just college kids and young adults who have no real sense of urgency about estate planning, though. More than a third of those surveyed who have children under 18 said they don't believe that wills or estate planning documents are one of the most important documents to have in place. What mattered to them? Birth certificates, and titles and deeds for property and vehicles topped their lists.

Furthermore, despite the fact that plenty of people know that without a will, a court decides who becomes a child's legal guardian if both parents die, only 39% of those surveyed with minors in their households have estate planning documents, and 13% believe that their spouse and children will automatically receive the assets they have in the event of their deaths.

Financial planners must be squirming in their seats. The stats aren't pretty, and they portend a lot of potential headaches for those who are left behind to sort out all the unsettled issues.

Start With the Basics

Are Your Estate Planning Documents In Place?
Yes, I took care of this a long time ago.\n1 (20.0%)
Not yet, I plan to do this before year end.1 (20.0%)
I don\'t think this is important.1 (20.0%)
I\'m clueless about estate planning.1 (20.0%)
I\'ve decided to get right on this.1 (20.0%)
"Make this a priority. Start with something basic, such as a will that names guardians for children and specifies who gets your possessions," says Niran Kundapur, director of Product Planning at LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Solutions. "After that, add on other estate planning documents such as power of attorney, living trust and living will."

If you feel intimidated or overwhelmed, getting educated helps. You can find good info online at sites like, through the many books on the topic, and at financial websites. LexisNexis developed EZLaw, an online service that helps you create a living will, last will and testament, or power of attorney, and have the documents reviewed by an attorney.

What's important, says Kundapur, is to start the conversation. "Don't be afraid to discuss it: Ask friends and family who have done this already, trusted professionals such as CPAs or family lawyers or doctors. Why go it alone?"

The bottom line: "People are busy living their lives and do not want to think about their mortality," says Kundapur. "Yet, estate planning is not about our own self. It's about ensuring the best possible future for family and loved ones."

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Spend a good portion of it on yourself or the death tax could take it regardless!... Enjoy it if you earned it!

August 30 2011 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Pirate

My Mom and Dad had a will but my Dad died, everything went to my Mom, and then she got Alzheimers. So, the state took everything to pay for the last few years of my Mom's care in a rest home. Beware, a will is not necessarily the only answer, I learned the hard way.

August 30 2011 at 2:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff B

People are too busy watching Jersey Shore.

August 29 2011 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Know why I don't make a will early? Because I want to put off the squabble as long as I can! No matter who gets what, It will always be disputed all the way down the line! You want to protect your loved ones but, geez! My Grandfather's alienated the whole family, and my father's was a source of dispute also. Unless I die suddenly, everything will be sold and I will be giving it all out in advance to the family. Everything will be equally divided! But just in case I don't, I'll have to risk the will thing!The last thing I want is to give this corrupt and evil government any of my hard earned money!

August 29 2011 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to boowah's comment
Jeff B

You are better off doing it early and letting everyone know upfront how much they are or aren't getting.

August 29 2011 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Schnettler

Very Distressing and Disturbing to learn this although I am in the majority on this one as well.

August 29 2011 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Alright, maybe it's just because I am kind of a planner, or, as some have said, crazy Type A personality. Either way, I don't have a written will yet (as I am still pretty young), but I've made it clear to my parents what I would want to happen to all of my stuff, my home, my money, my dog, etc., should anything happen to me. It's a good idea, even if you don't think you have much to leave behind (a better idea to get it written down formalized, I need to get on that!) I work for Mango Money and we have a great post on all of the reasons that you (yes you!) need a will. Check it out. Just because it's kind of a dismal topic, doesn't mean you shouldn't deal with it!

August 29 2011 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you already are married and having a family yet you have no will ... YOU ARE A COMPLEAT IDIOT!

August 29 2011 at 2:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used and left my entire estate to the Bill Gates Foundation, just like Warren Buffet did, so that the government can't get a dime of my limited estate.

It is weird that the 2nd richest man in the USA wants to pay more income taxes but when he has the chance to give 55% of hos wealth to the IRS upon his death and he doesn't need it anymore, he gave his Billions to the richest man in the USA just to avoid taxes and make sure the IRS doesn't get dime.

I think Warren is a grand standing liar when it comes to him wanting to pay more taxes. Watch what liberals do very closely and ignore what they say because they are pathological liars.

August 27 2011 at 10:47 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Never ever give a lawyer money. They will just sue you with it - as they chase your ambulance to the morgue. Use a website and spend about $39 for will.

August 27 2011 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Try not to think just financial !
With no will, your state laws and judges will
make the decisions on who gets to raise your kids etc etc

August 27 2011 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply