The Odds of Living To 65...

OK, so this is perhaps a really morbid post. But I have a lot of young friends. And many of them own real estate, have spouses, and very small children. And very few of these friends have taken care of their estate planning – as in, met with an attorney, learned about the risks, and put in mechanisms to mitigate those risks.

And I understand why so few of them haven’t –they are not going anywhere, they think. They know, actually.

Well, it’s true, we mostly hear about “old” people dying, not young people. And yet, you hear of young people dying too. I heard about a 53 year old who dropped dead from a heart attack. I heard about a couple that went scuba diving and never came up. I heard about a couple that died in a car crash. And then there’s of course Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and James Dean.

But these are singular cases, and I wanted to learn more – how many “young” people are dying? And what age deserves to be classified as “young”? Is there such a thing as “too young to die”?

I went to the CDC website – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mortality Data. ( . And I found this report: Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 10-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 2010. (

Here's an overview of deaths in 2010, by age groups:

Totals For 2010:

  • 2,468,435 people of all ages died. About 11.9% aged 25 to 54. 24.5% aged 25 to 64.
  • 49.93%, or 1,232,432, were men. Of them, 184,644 were aged 25-54 (15%, compared to 11.9% combined M and F). 373,939 were aged 25 to 64 (30.3%, compared to the 24.5% of M and F combined). Top 3 killers of men are: malignant neoplasms, diseases of the heart, and accidents. No. 1 killer of men aged 1 to 45 is accidents.
  • 50.07%, or 1,236,003, were women. Top 3 killers of women are: diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular diseases. No. 1 killer of women aged 35 to 85 is malignant neoplasms.

Ages 25-34:

  • 42,259 dead (more than dead people aged from 1 to 24 years combined, and 1.7% of total deaths that year). Of these, 29,192 (69%) were men.

Ages 35-44:

  • 70,033 dead (almost double the number of deceased 25-34 year olds, and 2.8% of total deaths that year). Of these, 43,434 (62% of total) were men.
  • Causes of death, in order: accidents, malignant neoplasms (tumors, cancer), and diseases of the heart.

Ages 45-54:

  • 183,207 dead (more than 2.5 times the number of 35-44 year olds, and jumping to 7.4% of total deaths that year). Of these, 112,018 were men (61% of total).
  • Causes of death, in order: malignant neoplasms (tumors, cancer) for the first time takes out more people than accidents, then diseases of the heart, and only then accidents (same for men and women).

Ages 55-64:

  • 310,802 dead (almost 2 times the number of 45-54 year olds, and jumping to 12.6% of total deaths that year). Of these, 189,295 were men (61% of total).
  • Accidents moves down to #4, with top 3 causes of death now being malignant neoplasms, diseases of the heart, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. (These stay the same all the way up to 85 year olds).

In summary:

  • Roughly one third of people who died in 2010 were between the ages of 24 and 64.
  • Men were a lot more likely to die young than women, mostly because of accidents, but also because of heart diseases and cancer.
  • The chances of dying young are pretty low but not impossible. The older you get, the chances go up.
  • The chance of dying eventually is 100%.
  • All deaths result in a “decedent’s estate.” The state of California provides a set of default processes and procedures that the decedent’s estate must go through, before it is distributed to the beneficiaries as inheritance.
  • Putting together an estate plan will usually result in a smoother, cheaper, faster processing of the decedent’s estate than relying on the default processes of the State of California.
  • To learn more about the slow, expensive, and disorganized things that would happen by default, and to learn how you can make things better through planning, please schedule an initial consultation.


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