LegalZoom.com National Survey Finds Americans Still Lack Basic Protection; Three out of Four Parents Have Not Prepared a Last Will, Leaving Children Unprotected: One in Five Families Cites Guardianship Disagreements as a Deterrent to Preparing a Will

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LegalZoom.com, the nation's leading online legal document service, announced today the results of its most recent national survey measuring the number of people who have prepared a Last Will and Testament. The LegalZoom.com survey, which was conducted by InsightExpress and sampled 1,000 individuals with a +/- 3.09 percent margin of error, showed little change from previous results.

There is a common misperception that last wills are only for those with significant financial assets, but that's simply not the case. A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents most of us will even sign. And if you are a parent with minor children, a Last Will is absolutely critical.

    According to the survey, seven out of 10 Americans, or 70.2 percent, lacked a Last Will and Testament. This number is nearly identical to returns from previous years, showing that Americans remain largely unprotected today. The survey also found that 20 percent of all respondents had not updated their Will for half a decade or more.

Most strikingly, the study showed that parents with minor children were less likely to have prepared a Last Will than other individuals. A possible contributing factor: nearly one out of five respondents with minor children cited guardianship issues as a deterrent to preparing a Last Will. Similarly, 42.3 percent of respondents had not decided who would serve as a guardian to their children in the event of their death. As a result, 74.4 percent of parents still did not have a Last Will and Testament, despite the fact that 79 percent of parents noted the importance of creating this legal document.

"Not preparing or updating a Last Will presents a serious problem for parents who want a say in how and where their children are raised," said Robert Shapiro, co-founder of LegalZoom.com. "Most parents don't realize that without a Will, these critical decisions will be left to the courts and to state law. And the courts may have very different ideas about what constitutes the best interest of the child."

While most respondents noted the importance of having a Last Will (73.8 percent), they also cited common barriers for not preparing one. Cost and time ranked among the top reasons.

"More than 210 million adults in the United States have not prepared a Will. We would like to make 2007 the year LegalZoom.com drastically reduces the number of unprotected Americans," said Brian Liu, chairman of LegalZoom.com. "There is a common misperception that last wills are only for those with significant financial assets, but that's simply not the case. A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents most of us will even sign. And if you are a parent with minor children, a Last Will is absolutely critical."

LegalZoom.com recommends that everyone keep an updated Last Will to designate guardians for minor children, specify last wishes, and name beneficiaries for general and specific gifts, such as funds, automobiles, homes, and family heirlooms. It is especially important to update a Will following significant life events such as marriage, divorce, new property acquisition, or the birth of a child or grandchild.

About LegalZoom.com

LegalZoom.com is the nation's number one online self-help legal document service. Co-founded by attorney Robert Shapiro in 2001, LegalZoom.com (http://www.legalzoom.com) helps consumers and small business owners take care of common legal matters online without a costly attorney. Legal documents available through LegalZoom include: Wills, Living Wills, Incorporation, LLC Formation, Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Divorces, Small Claims, Trademarks, Copyrights and more. Legalzoom.com is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or counsel.

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Larry Barrios
Allison & Partners
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