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Failing to have a will is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make

Costly financial mistake: Not having a will
Why failing to have a will is a costly financial blunder 05:10

In our Eye on Money series this week, we focus on the costly mistakes people make with their finances.

Failing to have a will is one of the biggest errors you can make when it comes to personal finances, according to CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger. It's one of the topics she discusses in her new book, "The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money."

According to a 2017 survey by, 58 percent of American adults have not prepared estate-planning documents. One Massachusetts woman told CBS News about how she could lose the home she has lived in for most of her life because her stepfather did not leave a will.

Who should have a will?

  • Adults of any age
  • Parents
  • Property owners

What are the core documents of estate planning?

  • Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Letter of Instruction

Important documents to gather for estate planning

  • List of all bank accounts, investment & insurance policies
  • List of all user names and passwords
  • Info on safe deposit boxes, vehicle titles, deeds
  • Marriage license or divorce papers 
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