When do people need to start thinking about writing a will? By the time they reach 55 years old, do you think they should have some sort of estate plan in place?

If you said yes, you will feel surprised to learn that about 50% of Americans who are older than 55 still do not even have a will on file. Many of them admit that they need one and that they know it’s important, but they have never actually gotten around to writing one.

On top of that, it’s important to remember that an estate plan is more than a will. Other recommended documents include a power of attorney and a health care directive. Beyond that, people can use all manner of trusts to ensure that their assets get distributed as they’d like.  

How many people have done all of that? It’s even more dramatic: just 18%.

When you talk about how many people do not have a will, critics often note that the statistics are skewed if you take everyone into account. They contend, for instance, that looking at all adults means you have a lot of 18- and 19-year-olds without an estate plan.  

That’s what makes this report so important. By looking at those who are over 55, it shows that many people who fall into an age group where a will is more often expected still have not written one.

If you have not created an estate plan and you want to get started, make sure you know what steps to take.