Are you as tired of all the COVID-19 media attention as I am?
Whatever you think of the “pandemic,” one thing is sure: nothing good came of it.
However, if you also try to find the proverbial silver lining in every dark cloud, I do, then I have some good news.
The news cycle in never ending pandemic panic mode reminded Americans of a common sense reality – we are all going to die.
Consequently, estate planning attorneys uniformly report an uptick in estate plan creation over the past few years.
According to a recent article in Financial Advisor IQ titled “More Americans Set Up Estate Plans Since Start of Pandemic,” more than 50% of Americans think estate planning is at least somewhat important.
The article cites a survey by the senior living referral service “Caring.com,” which reportedly surveyed more than 2,600 American adults (although the time frame of the survey itself was not cited).
So, what did the Caring.com survey find?
- The number of those aged 18 to 34 with estate planning documents has increased 50% since the beginning of the pandemic
- Americans who have suffered through a serious COVID case are also 66% more likely to have a last will and testament than those who have not.
- Overall, two out of three American adults do not have a last will — the percentage has only inched up from 32.1% in 2020 to 32.9% in 2021 to 33.1% this year.
- More than 60% of those without a last will have done nothing toward getting a last will or any estate planning document.
- The most cited reason for not having a last will? Simply not getting around to it. That reason is cited by 40% of all Americans without one.
- That excuse is particularly prevalent among those earning $80,000 a year or more and without a last will, 63% of whom say they have not had time to do so.
- The same “lack of time” excuse is offered by two out of three Americans with a postgraduate education.
- On the other hand, 48% of those earning $80,000 or more say they do have a last will or another estate planning document.That represents a 7% increase since 2020.
- Aside from “not having enough time, some third (33%) of Americans overall say they do not have an estate plan because they do not have enough to leave behind.
- Meanwhile, 12% say claim they do not know how to get a last will or living trust, and about 13% believe it is too expensive to set up.
- Another 6% think it takes too long, and 9% say they do not have anyone to whom they want to leave their assets.
I guess my takeaways from this survey are twofold:
- Too many Americans do not understand that estate planning is not a difficult and time consuming process; and that
- Estate planning is essential for every adult American (i.e., once you reach age 18), regardless how much “stuff” you have. Truly, it is the most fundamental legal means to protect everyone you love and everything you have. Starting with your own self!
It appears the estate planning community needs to do a better job of educating the public about the “whys” and “hows” of what we do.
For starters, feel free to refer a family member, friend, or colleague to sign up for a free subscription to our weekly blog digest and monthly e-newsletter.
Reference: Financial Advisor IQ (April 25, 2022) “More Americans Set Up Estate Plans Since Start of Pandemic”