They say that death and taxes are the two certainties of life, and people definitely prepare for the latter one of these two eventualities. However, when it comes to the other one, a surprising percentage of people are remiss.
2021 Survey Results
Caring.com has been conducting studies on an annual basis to get a feel for the estate planning preparedness of American adults. They gather their numbers shortly after we enter a new year, and they have recently released their figures for 2021.
Overall, 32.9 percent of adults have wills or trusts in place at the present time. This is pretty much consistent with the 2020 figure of 32.1 percent.
You would expect older people be more prepared than their younger counterparts, and this has been true in the past, but an interesting trend has emerged this year.
The preparedness percentage for people that are in the older age groups went down relatively significantly. Last year, 47.9 percent of individuals that were 55 years of age and older had estate plans in place, and it has gone down to 44 percent in 2021.
For individuals that are in the 35 to 54 group, the 2021 figure is 22.5 percent; it was 27.2 percent in 2020.
Since younger people are usually less prepared, you would assume that the youngest adult age group would follow along this downward trend.
In fact, 26.8 percent of respondents that are between the ages of 18 and 34 have made plans. This is a double-digit increase over the 16.4 percent that we saw a year ago.
Experts are speculating that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the large increase in the percentage of younger adults that have estate plans in place. One would assume that the situation has been sobering for younger people that may have felt invincible in the past.
This being stated, since the coronavirus is more deadly for older people, you would think that their preparedness numbers would go up as well. One explanation would be a reluctance to interact with an attorney to put a plan in place due to COVID exposure concerns.
Why Are They Are Unprepared?
Researchers asked the respondents that that did not have estate plans why they have failed to take action. Just over one third said that they intend to create a will or trust, but they have been procrastinating. In 2019, this reason was cited by half of unprepared adults.
A significant 28.1 percent said that they don’t have enough assets to warrant an estate plan. This is really not a suitable reason, because term life insurance is very expensive, and everyone should have advance directives for health care in place.
The other categories are based on misconceptions. Six percent said that estate planning is too expensive, and 7.6 percent stated that they simply do not know where to begin.
In reality, the process is surprisingly affordable, and it can be initiated simply and easily if you engage a licensed estate planning attorney.
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