We know estate planning is important, yet a recent survey found approximately 40% of the American public has yet to get an estate plan. The vast majority of survey participants recognize the importance of these legal tools, but various factors keep most from taking that step and getting their affairs in order.
Why the delay?
Those who have yet to get an estate plan cite the following as barriers:
- We can all relate to this one. Just because we know it is important is often not enough for us to justify taking the time to get an estate plan. The survey found procrastination was the primary hurdle for 42% of the respondents.
- Size of estate. More than one-third of the participants in the survey stated that they had yet to put together an estate plan because of concern that their estate might not be large enough to warrant a plan.
- The right steps. Estate planning is a process that can make use of various legal tools and a misstep can result in unforeseen consequences. 15% of participants pointed to concern of taking the wrong step as a primary reason for failing to have an estate plan.
Interestingly, a recent change has led many Americans, both young and old, to re-evaluate their estates and move forward with a plan.
Researchers conducted an annual survey to gather information on estate planning goals and statistics throughout the country. The group found that in 2023 many respondents were motivated to get an estate plan by inflation. This, combined with conversations triggered by the pandemic, have led to two consecutive years with increased rates of estate planning. The national average went up by 6% in 2020 and has continued to steadily increase.
Who is getting an estate plan?
Interestingly, one in four Americans aged 18 to 34 state media coverage and posts from influencers served as motivation to get an estate plan. Another segment of the population that is more likely to get an estate plan than in the past is those who make more than $80,000 annually. This group states they are motivated by starting a family and a need to protect their children.