It’s no secret that creating a will is accepting mortality – a reason that many clients and the public at large refrain from having one established. In fact, according to the latest annual survey of 1,000 participants by legal Web site, FindLaw (a Thomson company), only 41% have wills, decreasing slightly from 44.4% in 2002.

For planners who generally serve the upper-echelon of society, finding clients without wills is less common than finding ones that haven’t updated them in years, especially as the 2001 tax bill increases the lifetime exemptions until 2010, said Michael Steiner, an adviser with Regent Atlantic Capital in Chatham, N.J.

Advisers said it’s one of their roles as a planner to encourage clients to have an updated will and make sure that their wishes for the settling of their assets are written down. "When it comes to self-mortality, people are a lot slower to act. It takes a lot of prodding," Steiner said. "A lot of times it’s even going as far as sitting down in a meeting with the attorney and client. We can open up lines of communication and translate legal [jargon] into English and express the concerns clients have with the attorney. Many times that does help to break the ice."



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