Personal financial security has become a top-of-mind concern for many investors during the past 10 months, but a new survey finds that 45% of investors have neither a will nor an estate plan, Wells Fargo reported Monday.
“The pandemic has put in sharp relief the need to plan for the future, including having good end-of-life plans in place,” Michael Liersch, head of advice and planning for Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment Management division, said in a statement.
“The availability of the vaccine is great news, but it should not stop people from preparing estate plans.”
According to the fourth-quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey, higher-income investors are no more prepared than investors as a whole, but the percentage of those with either a will, estate plans or both increases with age. The percentage who have made no preparations declines from 70% of investors under age 50 to 17% of those 65 and older.
Thirty-four percent of investors in the study said they do have a written will, 4% have written estate plans and 17% have both.
The online Gallup Panel survey was completed Nov. 9 to Nov. 15 by 1,709 U.S. adult investors. The fourth quarter poll included an oversample of 603 higher-income investors, those with $240,000 or more in household income.
Family Communication Gap
Wells Fargo found that even investors who have a will or estate plan in place may need to communicate more openly about them with family or other heirs to ensure that their final wishes are understood and carried out.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they had spoken only a little or not at all to family members about their will or estate plans, and 57% said they needed to communicate more about these plans. Again, this changes with age, but even 45% of retired investors said they needed to do more.
Why the hesitancy? A slight majority of investors said they talk to family members about their will or estate plans out of obligation. Most of the remaining respondents either avoid or dread doing so, or do not ever do it.