Posts tagged ‘transfer-on-death designation’

October 18, 2013

Use of Wills and Trusts Down Sharply. Cause for Alarm?

The percentage of older Americans with a will or trust has plummeted in just a dozen years. If people do not have a will, they cannot include a charitable bequest commitment in it. So, should the latest findings from Texas Tech researcher Russell James, JD, PhD set off alarm bells for planned gift fundraisers?

In his newest book, American Charitable Bequest Demographics (1992-2012), James observes that 61.2 percent of those age 55 and over had a will or trust in 1998. By 2010, that figure had fallen to just 40.8 percent. For 2012, the projection is 40.0 percent.

Decline of Will & Trust Use - Russell James copy

There are two possible reasons for the sharp decline.

In many jurisdictions, individuals can use non-probate transfers such as transfer-on-death or pay-on-death designations. While traditionally used for financial accounts, such designations are increasingly available for automobiles and real estate. Designations can, in many cases, allow for the complete transfer of an estate without the use of either a trust or probate process.

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