Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 243–264 | Cite as

Characteristics of Older Adults with Written Wills

  • Marsha A. Goetting
  • Peter Martin
Article

Abstract

Using data from the Study of Aging and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD), an empirical model was tested to examine and explain the presence of a will among older adults. This study investigated the influence of the following multiple factors on the presence of a written will: demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, physical health problems, negative psychological functioning, sense of control, and financial assessments. Two-thirds of the sample (N = 521) indicated they had a written will. Logistic regression analysis of the empirical model revealed there were four significant predictors of an older adult having a will: race, education, net worth, and the respondent's assessment regarding the chances of leaving a financial bequest.

bequests estate planning inheritances older adults wills 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aries, P. (1974). Western attitudes toward death: From the middle ages to the present. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Babbie. E. (1992). The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  3. Bahls, S. C. (1994). Judicial approaches to resolving dissention among owners of the family farm. University of Nebraska Law Review, 74, 14-47.Google Scholar
  4. Batts, D. A. (1990). I didn't ask to be born: The American law of disinheritance and a proposal for change to a system of protected inheritance. The Hasting Law Journal, 41, 1197-1270.Google Scholar
  5. Beckstrom, J. H. (1981). Sociobiology and intestate wealth transfers. Northwestern University Law Review, 76, 216-270.Google Scholar
  6. Bengston, V. L. (1993). Is the “contract across generations” changing: Effects of population aging on obligations and expectations across age groups. In V. Bengston & W. Achenbaum (Eds.), The changing contract across generations (pp. 1-23). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  7. Betancourt, H., & Lopez, S. (1993). The study of culture, ethnicity, and race in American psychology. American Psychologist, 48, 629-637.Google Scholar
  8. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Bryant, C. D., & Snizek, W. E. (1975). The last will and testament: A neglected document in sociological research. Sociology and Social Research, 59, 219-231.Google Scholar
  10. Chuma, H. (1995). Intended bequest motives, savings, and life insurance demand. In T. Tachibanaki, & D. Wise (Eds.), Saving and bequests (pp. 15-38). Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. Clignet, R. (1992). Death, deeds, and descendants: Inheritance in modern America. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, M. (1991, January). Long-term care financing proposals: Their costs, benefits and impact of private insurance. Research Bulletin. New York: Health Insurance Association of America.Google Scholar
  12. Cosgrove, J. C. (1989). The dissaving behavior of the retired elderly. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  13. Cutler, N. E. (1992). The emerging dynamics of financial gerontology: Individual aging and population aging in the new century. In N. E. Cutler, D. W. Gregg, & M. P. Lawton (Eds.), Aging, money and life satisfaction: Aspects of financial gerontology (pp. 1-21). New York: Springer Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  14. DeMaris, A. (1995). A tutorial in logistic regression. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 956-968.Google Scholar
  15. Edwards, K. P. (1991). Planning for family asset transfers. Financial Counseling and Planning, 2, 55-78.Google Scholar
  16. Engler-Bowles, C., & Kart, C. (1983). Intergenerational relations and testamentary patterns: An exploration. The Gerontologist, 23, 167-173.Google Scholar
  17. Farley, P. J., & Wilensky, G. R. (1985). Household wealth and health insurance as protection against medical risks. In M. David & T. Smeeding (Eds.), Horizontal equity, uncertainty, and economic well being (pp. 323-354). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Fellows, M. L. (1984). Concealing legislative reform in the common-law tradition: The advancements doctrine and the Uniform Probate Code. Vanderbilt Law Review, 37, 671-707.Google Scholar
  19. Fellows, M., Simon, R., & Rau, W. (1978). Public attitudes about property distribution at death and intestate succession laws in the United States. American Bar Foundation Research Journal, 2, 319-387.Google Scholar
  20. Finch, J., & Wallis, L. (1993). Death, inheritance, and the life course. In D. Clark (Ed.), The Sociology of death: Theory, culture & practice (pp. 50-68). Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Frolik, L. (1996). Legacies of possessions: passing property at death. Generations, 20 (3), 9-12.Google Scholar
  22. George, L. (1989). Stress, social support, and depression over the life-course. In K. S. Markides & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Aging, stress and health (pp. 241-267). New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Goetting, M. (1981). Home study courses: An education option. Journal of 189). New York: Springer Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  24. Harl, N. E. (1994). Farm estate and business planning (12th ed.). Niles, IL: Century Communications.Google Scholar
  25. Harl, N. E. (1995). Farm estate & business planning: Annotated materials. (Available from Neil E. Harl, Heady Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010).Google Scholar
  26. Heeringa, S. G. (1995). Technical description of the assets and health dynamics (AHEAD) survey sample design. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  27. Hemmons, W. M. (1995). The African American family and the U. S. legal system. Marriage and Family Review, 21, 77-97.Google Scholar
  28. Hirsch A. J. (1995). Spendthrift trusts and public policy: Economic and cognitive perspectives. Washington University Law Quarterly, 74, 1-95.Google Scholar
  29. Hosmer, D. W., & Lemeshow, S. (1989). Applied logistic regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  30. Hurd, M. (1987). Savings of the elderly and desired bequests. The American Economic Review, 6, 298-312.Google Scholar
  31. Hurd, M. (1989). Mortality risk and bequests. Econometrica, 57, 779-813.Google Scholar
  32. Hurd, M. (1992). Wealth depletion and life-cycle consumption by the elderly. In D. Wise (Ed.), Topics in the economics of aging (pp. 135-162). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Hurd, M. (1994). The economic status of the elderly in the United States. In Y. Noguchi & D. Wise (Eds.), Aging in the United States and Japan: Economic trends (pp. 63-84). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Judge, D., & Hrdy, S. (1992). Allocation of accumulated resources among close kin: Inheritance in Sacramento, California, 1890-1984. Ethology and Sociobiology, 13, 495-522.Google Scholar
  35. Juster, T., Henretta, J., Herzog, R., Hill, M., Hurd, H., Rodgers, W., Soldo, B., Wallace, R., & Wolf, D. (1995). Codebook: Assets and health dynamics among the oldest old (AHEAD). Ann Arbor: Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  36. Kazarosian, M. V. (1992). Precautionary savings-a panel study (uncertainty, permanent income). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  37. Keating, N. (1996). Legacy, aging, and succession in farm families. Generations, 20 (3), 61-64.Google Scholar
  38. Kivnivk, H. (1996). Remembering and beings remembered: the reciprocity of psychosocial legacy. Generations, 20 (3), 40-53.Google Scholar
  39. Kotlikoff, L. J., & Summers, L. (1981). The role of intergenerational transfers in aggregate capital accumulation. Journal of Political Economy, 89, 706-732.Google Scholar
  40. Krause, N. (1993). Race differences in life satisfaction among aged men and women. Journal of Gerontology, 48, S235-S244.Google Scholar
  41. Lemann, T. B. (1992). Planning the surviving spouse's estate. Louisiana Bar Journal, 39, 561-566.Google Scholar
  42. Lustbader, W. (1996). Conflict, emotion, and power, surrounding legacy. Generations, 20 (3), 54-57.Google Scholar
  43. McCaffery, E. J. (1994). The uneasy case of wealth transfer taxation. Yale Law Journal, 104, 283-328.Google Scholar
  44. McGary, K., & Schoeni, R. F. (1997). Transfer behavior within the family: Results from the Asset and Health Dynamics Study, Journal of Gerontology, Special Issue, 52B, 82-92.Google Scholar
  45. Menard, S. (1995). Applied logistic regression analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  46. Menchik, P. (1988). Unequal estate division: Is it altruism, reverse bequests or simple noise? In D. Kessler & A. Masson (Eds.), Modeling the accumulation and distribution of wealth (pp. 79-102). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Menchik, P., & David, M. (1983). Income distribution, lifetime savings, and bequests. The American Economic Review, 73, 672-790.Google Scholar
  48. Modigliani, F. (1986). Life cycle, individual thrift, and the wealth of nations. American Economic Review, 76, 297-313.Google Scholar
  49. Moody, H. R. (1995). The return of the repressed: the ethics of assets and inheritance. In R. A. Kane, L. Starr, and M. O. Baker (eds.), Who Owes Whom What? Personal, Family and Public Responsibility for Paying for Long-Term Care. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota National Longer Term Care Resource Center.Google Scholar
  50. Morgan, S. P., & Teachman, J. D. (1988). Logistic regression: Description, examples, and comparisons. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 929-936.Google Scholar
  51. Nelson, E. A., & Dannefer, D. (1992). Aged heterogeneity: Fact or fiction? The fate of diversity in gerontological research. The Gerontologist, 32, 17-23.Google Scholar
  52. Norušis, M. J. (1993). SPSS for Windows: Advanced Statistics Release 6.0. Chicago, IL: SPSS Inc.Google Scholar
  53. Nunnally, J. 1978. Psychometric theory. (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  54. O'Connor, C. (1996). Empirical Research on how the elderly handle their estates. Generations 20 (3), 13-19.Google Scholar
  55. Regan, J. J. (1995). Tax, estate & financial planning for the elderly. New York: Matthew Bender & Co., Inc.Google Scholar
  56. Rosenfeld, J. (1992). Old age, new heirs. American Demographics, 14, 46-49.Google Scholar
  57. Rossi, A. S., & Rossi, P. H. (1990). Of human bonding: Parent-child relations across the life course. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  58. Roth, N. (1987). The psychiatry of writing a will. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 41, 245-251.Google Scholar
  59. Roth, N. (1989). The psychiatry of writing a will. Springfield IL: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  60. Schneiderman, G. (1991, February). The creation of a will is a personal matter. Trusts & Estates, 68-70.Google Scholar
  61. Schwartz, T. (1993). Testamentary behavior: Issues and evidence about individuality, altruism and social influences. The Sociological Quarterly, 34, 337-355.Google Scholar
  62. Shaffer, T. (1970). Death, property, and lawyers. Cambridge, MA: University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Shammas, C., Salmon, M., & Dahlin, M. (1987). Inheritance in America: From colonial times to present. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Shapo, H. S. (1993). A tale of two systems: Anglo-American problems in the modernization of inheritance legislation. Tennessee Law Review, 60, 707-781.Google Scholar
  65. Simon, R., Fellows, M., & Rau, W. (1982). Public opinion about property distribution at death. Marriage and Family Review, 5, 25-38.Google Scholar
  66. Smith, J. D., & Orcutt, H. H. (1980). The intergenerational transmission of wealth: Does family size matter. In J. Smith (Ed.), Modeling the distribution and intergenerational transmission of wealth (pp. 273-288). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  67. Soldo, B., Hurd, M., Rodgers, W., & Wallace. R. (1997). Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old: An Overview of the AHEAD Study, Journal of Gerontology, Special Issue, 52B, 1-21.Google Scholar
  68. Sussman, M., Cates, J., & Smith D. (1970a). The family and inheritance. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  69. Sussman, M., Cates, J., & Smith D. (1970b). Will making: an examination of client and lawyer attitudes. University of Florida Law Review, 22, 25-50.Google Scholar
  70. Swindler, A. (1986). Culture in action: Symbols and strategies. American Sociological Review, 51, 273-286.Google Scholar
  71. Tacchino, K., & Thomas, N. (1997). Why financial practitioners and geriatric care managers must talk to each other. Generations, 21 (2), 41-44.Google Scholar
  72. Tobin, S. (1996). Cherished possessions: The meaning of things. Generations, 20 (3), 46-48.Google Scholar
  73. Wallace, R. B., Kohout, F. J., & Colsher, P. L. (1992). Observations on interview surveys of the oldest old. In R. M. Suzman, D. P. Willis, & K. G. Manton (Eds.), The oldest old (pp. 123-134). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Wolf, S. S. (1995). Legal perspectives on planning for death. In H. Wass & R. Neimeyer (Eds.), Dying: Facing the facts (pp. 163-184). Washington DC: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marsha A. Goetting
    • 1
  • Peter Martin
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics and EconomicsMontana State UniversityBozeman
  2. 2.Iowa State UniversityAmes
  3. 3.German Center for Research on AgingUniversity of HeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations