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Where There is a Will...Legal Documents Among the 50+ Population: Findings from an AARP Survey

Among age 50+ Americans, 60% have a will, 45% have a durable power of attorney, and 23% have a living trust; but 36% have none of these legal documents and only 17% have all three. The proportion of persons having each kind of document increases with age, particularly for wills and durable powers of attorney. While 44% -- or fewer than half -- of persons age 50-54 have a will, 85% of those age 80 or older have one. Both income and education affect the likelihood of having a will. For example, while just 51% of those with a high school education or less have a will, 80% of those with a college degree have one. The proportion having a durable power of attorney also increases with education -- from 39% of those with a high school education or less, to 58% of those with a college degree. The findings were determined by surveying 1,028 adults age 50 and older during December 1999. Previously, similar data were obtained for AARP via a survey of adults age 45 and over in 1991.

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