No one likes to think about dying — and that is probably one reason most Americans lack wills.
Fewer than half of American adults (42 percent) have a will, according to a survey published this week on Caring.com, a website that offers resources for older Americans and their caregivers.
The most common excuse given for not having a will (or an alternative legal tool called a living trust) was, “I just haven’t gotten around to it,” cited by nearly half of survey participants who lacked one.
Must I have a lawyer draw up my will?
Not necessarily. Creating a will with a do-it-yourself software program may be acceptable in some cases, particularly if you are a single person with a modest bank account or half of a young couple with no children. “It’s perhaps better to have one done by a program than not at all,” said Gerard G. Brew, a lawyer specializing in trust and estate matters with McCarter & English in Newark.
But if you have significant financial assets or a complex family situation, like a blended family or a child with special needs — it is best to seek expert advice. Any cost savings from skipping legal advice upfront, Mr. Brew said, will quickly evaporate if an estate matter is contested in court. “I urge caution,” he said.