Vast majority of Americans aren't ready for the inevitable: Death

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 15:26:45-05

It's not a happy topic but get this: a new study finds a majority of American adults are not prepared for the inevitable…death. So, many people don’t have wills.

The chances of your house burning down are .08 percent. The odds of your home getting hit by a tornado are 1 in 4.5 million but you still have homeowners insurance.

What are your chances of dying at some point? You know the answer but then why no will?

"It's a topic that a lot of people don't want to discuss," said Cleveland attorney Lisa Roth, who specializes in estate planning.

We found out if you die without a will, you lose control over making valuable decisions about your assets and estate.

"The state of Ohio...the laws in the state of Ohio are going to make those decisions for you,” said Roth. “And that may not be what you want."

A recent study by shows the vast majority of millennials don't have a will. And 64 percent of Gen-Xers don’t have one. And even a surprising amount of people in their early 70's don't possess the proper paperwork.

Roth told News 5 she's seen what can happen with unexpected deaths.

"A lot of times you'll find a plan was not done and that, obviously, only exacerbates the tremendous loss and the tremendous difficulties that you're going through," said Roth.

News 5 dug up the costs of making a will versus not having one. The upfront fees to set up a will and estate planning are usually a lot less than the costs if courts get involved after a death, especially if someone contests the proceedings.

CONSUMER REPORTS | Parents' guide to creating a will

Roth finds those who've put off the necessary discussion find relief when it's all said and done.

"I've had many that will sign the documents on that day and will say to me, ‘I'm really glad that this is done. It's really taking a weight off my shoulders,’” she said. 

With that said, though, the study shows a massive percentage of people with young children don't have a will.

"It can really add a lot of frustration and anger at a time when they're already emotional,” Roth said. 

In addition to filling out a will, Roth suggested setting up a power of attorney and having conversations with your loved ones about where they can find your bank accounts, other assets, and passwords to online accounts. That way they don't have to go searching for those after you're gone.