The best intentions don't always translate into action when it comes to end-of-life planning according to research released today by Everplans.
We conducted two independent studies throughout the course of June 2014 using Harris Poll and market research firm Ask Your Target Market to learn as much as we could about people's views towards getting a plan in place for themselves and their families. In total, 2,500 people were surveyed. The research suggests the biggest barrier to action isn’t consumer awareness of the importance of these plans, but rather, the lack of access to a simple, easy way to put all these plans in place. Everplans, which is the leading online service that gives financial professionals the tools they need to help their clients organize, store, and securely share all their legal, financial, healthcare, personal, and digital estate planning, is working to change that.
People Not Confident In Their Planning
When asked how well they handled or were prepared for making end-of-life plans – such as creating a Will, naming guardians, or having Life Insurance – consumers felt this is where they lagged the most when compared with all other household duties. More than one-fourth (27 percent) of those responsible for making end-of-life plans said they are not doing a good job at planning for the unexpected. And among those not already responsible for end-of-life planning, more than half (52 percent) feel like it would be a struggle to put those important documents in place. Other findings:
- Eighty-seven percent of parents surveyed said it was important to speak to their children about their end-of-life plans.
- 69 percent of respondents say they have considered creating a Will, only 34 percent surveyed have actually done so.
- Only one out of four have made eldercare arrangements or completing an Advance Directive.
Gap In Consumer Intent Vs. Action
With the notable exception of Life Insurance, there's a significant gap between the plans people know they need versus the plans they actually implement. Creating a Will, one of the most important and commonly completed documents, was what consumers most often cited when asked about which documents they have seriously considered creating. However, only half of those respondents who considered creating a Living Will, a Healthcare Proxy, or a funeral plan actually went on to do so. Beyond legal documents, people are starting to consider how their online accounts and services such banking, utilities, and insurance – as well as social media profiles and online photo libraries – will be accessed after their death. Forty percent of consumers have "seriously considered" documenting account details; only 22 percent have actually done so.
"Every one of my clients say they have a "general idea" of what they need to do but many just don't know where to start," said Bruce Bendell, managing member, Transitions Wealth Management, LLC. "Having a step-by-step action plan laid out in a person's Everplan is a huge wake up call for most of my clients because they really see what they still need to do. Everplans empowers my clients to make those decisions – and if they are unsure how to proceed, I am right there to help them work through the process as their trusted advisor."
Consumers Recognize Importance Of Seeking Assistance
While many people have trouble putting a plan in place, most feel it's important to talk about their wishes. More than 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that it's important to share their information across generations. Only 18 percent said these concerns were depressing or something they didn't want to deal with, dispelling the notion that end-of-life and legacy discussions are something people want to ignore or avoid.
The numbers skyrocketed when asked about wanting assistance creating an end-of-life plan. Over 95 percent of respondents agreed that some type of help would be valuable in creating such documents. Another area in which nearly everyone surveyed agreed (97 percent) is the importance of storing these important documents in a safe and easily accessible location where their loved ones could find them if they needed them.
"Trusted financial advisors, estate planners, CPAs, and insurance professionals are often the first point of contact on this complex issue for many consumers," said our co-founder/co-CEO Abby Schneiderman. "The research shows how important it is for investment professionals to engage with their clients on this topic. With Everplans Professional, advisors can turn clients' best intentions into action."