April 11, 2019
A national survey conducted on behalf of Weinstein PR and Intentional Life Planning, LLC by DHM Research, a respected leader in opinion research, has discovered groundbreaking data about Americans’ plans for their lives, finances and deaths.
Thirty percent of survey respondents said they had a financial plan, 26 percent reported having wills and only 13 percent said they have plans for their lives.
The survey asked 625 respondents: “Which of these things do you have in place?” Here’s how they answered:
|Item Respondent has in Place||Respondents|
|An advanced directive (legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time)||19%|
|A will (a legal document that coordinates the distribution of your assets after death)||26%|
|Power of attorney (a document that gives on your behalf the authority to act for another person in specified or all legal or financial matters)||15%|
|A financial plan (a comprehensive overview of your financial standing and goals)||30%|
|A life plan (a document that maps out the things you want to achieve in life and when and how you will attain them)||13%|
|None of the above||44%|
“People spend more time planning a week’s vacation than they do planning their lives. A life plan for what you want to achieve in life combined with a financial plan can enable one to accomplish so much,” said Lee Weinstein, author of “Write, Open, Act: An Intentional Life Planning Workbook” and president of Weinstein PR and Intentional Life Planning, LLC, which commissioned the survey
Reviewing the data by gender, women were more likely to have advanced directives (24 percent compared to 13 percent of men) and power of attorney (21 percent to 9 percent of men). More men said they had financial plans (37 percent to 24 percent of women). On wills, 29 percent of women reported they have them, compared to 24 percent of men. The genders were about even on having life plans, with 12 percent of women and 13 percent of men saying they have plans.
“These are very thought-provoking results. When it comes to life planning, this survey of Americans shows differences between genders, ages, education levels, incomes and region. One thing we all have in common is the need for greater personal planning for our lives, deaths, disability or incapacitation,” said Adam Davis, senior counsel at DHM Research.
Life planning national survey cross tab data is available here.
By age, 33 percent of 18-34-year-olds and 35-44-year-olds have financial plans and 15 percent have life plans; 37 percent of people 45-54 and 55-64 have wills, as do 53 percent of people 65+. Forty-six percent of people 65+ also have advanced directives.
Said June Wiyrick Flores, an estate planning attorney at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn:
“Generally, I am surprised by the number of people who do not have any estate planning documents. I think it critically important for everyone who is 18 and older to have a health care and financial powers of attorney. If a person becomes incapacitated and hasn’t done planning, it can become even more of a burden on the family because in order to make those decisions the family is required to go to court to have a guardian or conservator appointed. A will or a revocable trust provide instructions on how your assets should be distributed, protect minor children, may minimize estate taxes, and help you leave gifts to persons and causes you care about.”
By education, 73 percent of people with high school diplomas or less have none of these life instruments; 30 percent of college graduates have wills and 31 percent have financial plans; and 40 percent of post-graduates have financial plans.
Higher-income people have wills and financial plans in place (45 percent making more than $100,000 annually). By contrast, 16 percent of people making less than $25,000 have financial plans and 9 percent have life plans. By ethnicity, 29 percent of Caucasians and 18 percent of people of other ethnicities reported they have wills.
By region, 32 percent of Americans in the Northeast reported they have wills, while 34 percent of Midwesterners, 31 percent of Westerners and 27 percent of Southerners said they have financial plans.
“A financial plan is a look into the future––and therefore cannot be accurate, as life events, health and the economy all lay siege to its predictions,” said Charles Haugh, principal at Martin Haugh Financial in Beaverton, Ore.
He continued: “Despite these shortcomings, a financial plan––updated regularly for changes––is the best tool available for making well-informed financial decisions for the future. Coupled with an individual identifying her primary goals and values in a ‘life planning’ session, a person can confidently stroll down life’s path, with a disciplined process of considering personal and financial priorities to lead appropriately through each fork in the road.”
DHM Research is a widely respected opinion research and consultation firm. It specializes in assisting public, private, and nonprofit clients with planning and decision-making informed by valid qualitative and quantitative research. Located in Portland, Ore., with an office in Washington, D.C., DHM Research has a national reputation for objectivity and thoroughness.
Between February 26, 2019, and March 2, 2019, DHM Research administered a scientifically conducted online survey to 625 Americans aged 18+. Demographic quotas and statistical weighting were used to assure a representative national sample. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.9 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.