Affluent Americans over 45 may intend to leave a legacy to their children, but 75% of them haven’t made any such plans, according to a study from Charles Schwab & Co. conducted by Harris Interactive. As a result, a large percentage of the assets now projected to go to heirs may not.

Procrastination rather than deliberate negligence is the most common reason cited for not having a plan; of those who don’t currently have plans, two-thirds said they intend to but haven’t gotten to it yet.

The second most common excuse was that there were not enough assets to warrant an estate plan, although the average net worth of the sampled population was $1.7 million. "Contrary to popular belief, most people need estate plans," said Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Corporation Foundation and Schwab’s Women’s Investing Network. Not only do people’s assets generally increase over time, but they can allay much family strife by establishing estate planning early.

Only a tenth of respondents said they were very likely to leave any money to charity, and of the 56% who were fairly certain they would donate nothing in their estates, 72% intended to leave all their assets to their heirs. However, Schwab Pomerantz said that charitable giving can not only invest in the community but also have a positive impact on assets available for heirs.

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