Is an estate strategy important if you're not wealthy? Most Americans seem to think so.

In a Leaving a Legacy survey we conducted in July 2019, 77% of respondents believed that having an estate strategy is important. However, only 23% had taken the first basic step to prepare.

The simple thing you can do now: Name beneficiaries on your accounts. Naming beneficiaries on checking, savings, IRA and other accounts doesn't take much time, won't cost you any money and doesn't require a lawyer. If you haven't already taken care of that, contact your financial advisor to do so today.

Here are the next steps we recommend:

Create your strategy. It's important to remember that if you don't have a strategy in place, your estate could wind up in probate, causing your loved ones unnecessary hassle and stress. Work with your financial advisor to discuss your goals for your legacy and steps you might take to achieve them.

Review and update your strategy. If you already have beneficiaries or a plan in place, it's important to review both regularly. As life changes, so might your beneficiaries and goals. The top three things survey respondents said their parents did or can do for them as beneficiaries were having a will or legacy strategy in place, paying off all their current outstanding debt and telling them where their money and assets are held.

Share your wishes.  It's important your loved ones know about your estate plan, so they can follow your wishes. Only 49% of beneficiaries surveyed felt they had the information to carry out a loved one's estate plan confidently.

While these are important steps to follow, they are just a starting point. For more details, contact your Edward Jones financial advisor to discuss your legacy goals.

Important Information:

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

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.