Where’s the inheritance? Why fewer older Americans are writing wills or estate planning

Fewer older Americans are writing wills, research shows, a finding that could spell trouble for survivors.

The share of over-70 households with wills or trusts to distribute their assets after death has been in steady decline since the mid-2000s, according to an analysis published in August by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Between 2008 and 2018, that share dropped from 70% to 63%.

The downward trend reflects the growing diversity of older America. Seniors are more likely than ever to be Black or Hispanic, and those populations are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to leave a will or receive an inheritance.

“We looked at who’s not writing wills,” said Gal Wettstein, a senior research economist at Boston College, “and it’s disproportionately non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics.”

Daniel de Visé | USA TODAY

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