Avoiding Death? Two-Thirds of Americans Don't Have a Will

By Rick Kahler via Iris.xyz

As inevitable as death is, given the way we avoid planning for it we seem to believe we will evade it if we don’t talk about it.  Two-thirds of Americans don’t have a will or a health care advanced directive.

Financial planners like myself often preach that everyone must have both. However, there are exceptions to most rules, as well as times that the best preparation in the world goes awry.

Here are some scenarios where you may not need a will. First, you have no minor children and you don’t own anything of value or that you want to bequeath to someone. Second, you do have assets, but all of them are transferable without a will. These include retirement accounts, annuities, assets like homes or bank accounts that are owned jointly, and assets like brokerage accounts or real estate that will Transfer on Death (TOD) to a named beneficiary.

What about a health care advanced directive (HCAD)? This is any document that gives instructions or appoints someone to give direction about your health care. Living wills and Health Care Durable Powers of Attorney are two of the most popular HCADs.

Many people think you must use a state-provided form for a HCAD to be effective.

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