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Edward Jones Survey Finds Most Americans Are Leaving Crucial Legacy Decisions Up in the Air

September 16, 2019

While respondents recognize the importance of legacy strategies a majority fail to take basic steps

According to a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones, 77% of Americans believe that estate and legacy strategies are important for everyone, not just wealthy individuals, yet only 24% of Americans are taking the most basic step of designating beneficiaries for all of their accounts.

"It's encouraging to see that most people recognize how a properly planned estate or legacy strategy puts you in control of what happens to what matters most to you, such as minor children, dependents, financial assets, even your own health care decisions," explains Edward Jones Client Services Group Principal Ken Cella. "What was startling is that even with this understanding, a majority of Americans still do not have a plan. Without a plan your assets could be subject to the time-consuming, expensive, and very public, probate process."

Additionally, the data showed a lacking sense of urgency in prioritizing legacy planning conversations. Of Americans who work with financial advisors, 64% reported never having discussed estate goals and legacy plans with their financial advisor. Furthermore, only 34% of millennials and Gen Xers have discussed their estate/legacy goals with their financial advisors, which increased only minimally for baby boomers (38%), the generation most likely to need estate plans in the near future.

"No financial plan is complete without a legacy strategy, but there are steps individuals can take this week to make progress," added Scott Thoma, Principal with the Investment Strategy group at Edward Jones. "Designating beneficiaries on each of your appropriate accounts is simplest and quickest way to get started. To ensure loved ones are taken care of, it’s crucial to review and update estate plans regularly, and most importantly, communicate these wishes to the beneficiaries throughout the process."

Fortunately, the Americans who do have estate and legacy plans in place are committed to updating them and involving their families in the process. Almost all Americans who have discussed their estate/legacy goals with their financial advisors have updated their plan since creating it (98%). Additionally, 61% involved their family the last time they reviewed their estate/legacy plan with their financial advisor, increasing to 74% for Americans with children in the household.

More information including calculators and other helpful tools can be found by visiting:

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.


The Edward Jones Leaving a Legacy Survey was conducted by Engine's Online CARAVAN® Omnibus among a national sample of 2,007 adults comprising 1,003 men and 1,004 women 18 years of age and older from July 22-28, 2019.

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