An Estate of Confusion

(Los Angeles, CA – October 13, 2009) –   A recent survey conducted by Insight Express for found that many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy. Perhaps because of this misconception, the survey found that 67% of adults do not have a Last Will and Testament.

It seems the majority of adults aren’t creating a Last Will because of confusion surrounding the terminology. Almost half (47%) of the respondents did not know that the “estate” part of estate planning could refer to anything from grandpa’s favorite book to the family sedan. When queried further about the meaning, 20% thought estate planning applied specifically to real estate, while another 4% responded that estate planning was just for millionaires.

Brian Liu, co-founder and chairman of says he’s not surprised by the results, but he is disappointed that more people haven’t been able to create a Last Will to their benefit. Liu explains, “Estate planning is for everyone, and it can be easy and affordable.” He adds, “Instead of a probate court ruling that a family home or heirloom must be sold and profits divided three ways amongst siblings, a Last Will lets the testator decide what’s best for his or her own family. If someone wants something kept in the family for multiple generations to come, a Last Will can help ensure this happens.”

The misconceptions didn’t stop at terminology. The majority of respondents (85%) did not know that without a will in place at the time of death, any assets are frozen until a probate court hearing. One in three (31%) respondents wrongly assumed that their assets will automatically go to their spouse, while 17% admitted they didn’t know what would happen to their possessions.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do at LegalZoom is empower ordinary Americans to take full advantage of legal documents to protect their family and themselves,” Liu says. “Demystifying legal documents and confusing terminology is an important part of this.”

These 2009 survey results are unchanged compared to LegalZoom’s 2007 survey results.

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1Insight Express surveyof 502 respondents conducted in August 13, 2009.