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Nearly Half of Investors Lack Wills, Estate Plans: Survey

By Alex Padalka January 5, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many investors to write a will or set up an estate plan — but close to half of investors, regardless of income, don’t have either, a recent survey found.

Thirty-four percent of investors across the board have a written will and 4% have a written estate plan, according to a survey conducted by Wells Fargo and Gallup of 1,709 U.S. investors, aged 18 and older, with $10,000 or more in an investment account. The survey was fielded November 9 to 15, 2020.

Among higher-income investors — which the survey defines as those having $240,000 or more in household income — only 19% have only a will, while 6% have just an estate plan, and 30% have both, Wells Fargo says.

Nonetheless, 45% of investors, regardless of income, don’t have either a written will or an estate plan, the survey found.

Unsurprisingly, the likelihood of having a will or an estate plan, or both, rises with age: while 70% of respondents ages 18 to 49 had neither, that fell to 43% for respondents 50 to 64 and to 17% for those 65 and older, Wells Fargo says.

Financial advisors, meanwhile, may have a particularly valuable role to play when it comes to urging clients to talk to their family. Even among investors who have a will or estate plan, there’s a reluctance to discuss them with family members: 65% of respondents say they have spoken just a little or not at all about their wills or estate plans with family, and 57% acknowledge they may need to do more communicating, the survey found. That may be due to overall confidence in their heirs: only 13% are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that their family understands and supports their estate plan goals, Wells Fargo says.

“The perception that family members are in sync with their wishes may be true for some investors, but for others, that may need to be confirmed,” Michael Liersch, head of advice and planning for Wells Fargo’s wealth and investment management division, says in a statement. “Even if investors want to provide their heirs broad latitude in using their assets, communicating that sentiment now is important to give their heirs peace of mind — and the financial tools and knowledge — in making these decisions when the time comes.”

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Tags:  Estate planning , Wells Fargo

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