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 conducted by Harris Interactive. As a result, a large percentage of the assets now projected to go to heirs may not reach them.

Procrastination rather than deliberate negligence is the most common reason cited for not having a plan. 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. Not only do people's assets generally increase over time, but they can allay much family strife by establishing estate planning early.

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