Demands for Wills Surged During Pandemic

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2021 | Estate Planning

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a rise in estate planning, and yet too many Americans still aren’t planning ahead.
In the spring of 2020, news reports were rife with stories of advisors experiencing a surge in demand for wills and estate planning. Power of attorney and health care directives were also a focus, as people made decisions about who could access their medical and financial records and who could make decisions on their behalf.
The Q4 Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index showed that close to half of investors have neither a will nor an estate plan. About a third (34%) say they have a written will, 4% have a written estate plan, and 17% have both.
According to the report, higher-income investors are not more prepared than others. One good sign, though, is that the likelihood a person has a will or estate plan does increase with age. Most (83%) investors 65 and older have some preparations in place. But that number drops to 30% for investors under age 50.
The pandemic heightened awareness of the need for clear end-of-life plans. Fortunately, mortality rates have dropped since the virus’ onset, and vaccines are increasingly available. But don’t let that good news stop you from preparing.
In December 2020, Business Wire highlighted a few of the ways people feel about creating estate plans:
• Sense of obligation (51%)
• Avoid estate planning (14%)
• Dread planning (10%)
• Don’t ever complete plans (14%)
The Wells Fargo/Gallup survey was polling investors, but these numbers aren’t terribly surprising, and we can extrapolate that even non-investors would display similar results if the poll were broadened. Far too many of us shy away from creating estate plans, or even from talking about end-of-life decisions in the first place.
With plans and proper documentation in place, you can get out ahead of future health crises. Estate planning allows you to retain some control over your affairs in the event of disability or incapacitation while you are alive, and it means you, and not a probate court, decide where your assets go when you die.
If you have any questions about estate planning or what would fit your family’s needs, talk to a qualified professional.