The Boston Globe

Overall, 59 percent of US adults have failed to draft
a will, leaving them little control over what happens
to their assets or minor children in case they die,
according to a survey released last week.

The percentages are even worse for younger adults and
parents: 89 percent of those between the ages of 18
and 34 have no will, and 66 percent of those with
children have no will.

No surprise, the older people get, the more likely
they are to have a will, according to the survey
commissioned by FindLaw, a legal Web site. For
instance, among the 1,000 survey respondents in the
nationally representative sample who were age 54 and
older, 71 percent said they have a will.

Check's not in the mail

Millions of IRS notices and quick rebate checks have
begun arriving in taxpayers' mailboxes, but not
everyone who's paid their taxes on time has gotten a
government mailing.

That's because the Internal Revenue Service hadn't
finished processing certain returns - those that
included payment checks - when the first mailings were
prepared in June, according to Peggy Riley,
spokeswoman for the IRS in New England.

Taxpayers in that situation who do qualify for what is
also being called an advance payment should receive a
notice about the payment after their return has been
processed, and a check soon afterward.

But there are some groups of taxpayers who may have to
wait even longer for their notices or checks:

- People who filed for an automatic extension on their
2000 return by mid-April, but missed last Wednesday's
deadline for getting those returns in without penalty.

- People who filed for an additional extension by last
Wednesday, giving them until Oct. 15 to file the

The thousands of taxpayers from New England and
upstate New York whose checks mysteriously disappeared
after being sent to an IRS Pittsburgh post office box
around mid-April.

And if taxpayers who qualify don't receive the rebates
by the end of this year, they'll have to complete a
worksheet and claim a credit when they file their 2001
tax returns next year. That's because the new tax law
prohibits the IRS from sending out rebate checks
beyond the end of this year.

Taxpayers still on hold

Speaking of those missing taxpayers' checks, which the
Globe first reported in June, the IRS is still
estimating that the number of taxpayers affected
remains at 1,800, even though at least dozens more who
sent their payment to the Pittsburgh post office box
have since come forward saying they are in the same

Some taxpayers who called the IRS to report the
missing checks told the Globe they've been put on hold
for hours, or the IRS sent them a notice saying they
owe penalty and interest, or the IRS gave them
conflicting instructions about what to do.

The best way to get through on the toll-free number is
to call during off-peak hours, according to IRS
spokeswoman Riley. The number is answered 16 hours a
day, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Sunday. Or
taxpayers can go to their local IRS office, she said.

Riley also explained that the agency phone line,
1-800-829-1040, is answered by "assisters" in
different parts of the country who may not be aware of
the New England and upstate New York-specific problem.
The IRS has notified all its offices of the "problem
alert" involving the Pittsburgh post office box,
however, and that such cases should be sent to a
special Andover address for tracking.

Anyone who reported a missing check but still got a
notice about penalty and interest may not have had
their case properly processed. Riley suggested
taxpayers in that situation call the toll-free number
again and make sure their case has been handled as
part of the problem alert.

The IRS has also changed its recommendation about what
to do once taxpayers have called to report the missing
checks, Riley said. Instead of waiting until they
receive a notice from Andover to stop payment on the
checks, taxpayers should do so once they've gotten
through on the toll-free number.