NEW YORK, Sept. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The best intentions don't always translate into action when it comes to end-of-life planning according to research released today by Everplans. 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, conducted two independent studies throughout the course of June 2014. Harris Poll, on behalf of Everplans, conducted the first of two online studies with over 2,000 adults from across the country. The second survey questioned 500 consumers through the online market research firm, Ask Your Target Market. The research suggests the biggest barrier to action is not consumer understanding 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 is working to change that.
Consumers 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 unexpected1. 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 place1.
Improving how they approach planning is something many consumers want to tackle. This includes the first big step: talking about it with loved ones. Eighty-seven percent of parents surveyed said it was important to speak to their children about their end-of-life plans2. But talking about planning does not necessarily translate into having an actual plan. While 69 percent of respondents say they have considered creating a will, only 34 percent surveyed have actually done so2. And even less action is being taken when it comes to eldercare arrangements or completing an advance directive – only one out of four surveyed had formal plans in place2.
"Everplans' mission is to help people get a plan in place ahead of time, so that in the event of an emergency, or even a death, families are taken care of, questions aren't left unanswered, and the most important documents and key pieces of information are in one, easily accessible place," said Abby Schneiderman, co-CEO, Everplans. "This includes wills, life insurance policies, health directives, passwords, funeral wishes, but also other important information you might want to make sure your family has, such as what you want in your obituary or making sure family recipes don't get lost or forgotten. This research highlights the significant disconnect between consumer intention and action and underscores the important role financial advisors can play, in partnership with Everplans, to help consumers get ready for the future."
Gap in Consumer Intent vs. Action
According to the Everplans research, with the notable exception of life insurance, there is 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 creating2. However, only half of those respondents who considered creating a living will, a healthcare proxy, or a funeral plan, actually went on to do so2. 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. However, only 22 percent have actually done so2.
"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 is important to talk about their wishes. More than 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that it is important to share their information across generations2. 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 avoid2.
When asked about wanting assistance creating an end-of-life plan the numbers skyrocketed. Over 95 percent of respondents agreed that some type of help would be valuable in creating such documents2. 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 one could find them if they needed them2.
"Trusted financial advisors, estate planners, CPAs, and insurance professionals are often the first point of contact on this complex issue for many consumers," continued 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."
Advisors looking to help clients fill the gaps in end-of-life planning can visit https://www.everplans.com/professional and schedule a one-on-one online demo of the tool. Consumers looking to create their own end-of-life plan can visit https://www.everplans.com and get started for free.
1Harris Poll survey (June 4-6, 2014): This phase was comprised of 2,036 U.S. adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
2Ask Your Target Market (June 2014): The second phase was conducted with 500 adults aged 18-65+. The sample is nationally representative for age and geographic region, and includes those adults with a household income above $75,000, which accurately represents the client base of financial services and insurance advisors.
Everplans is the leading online platform helping people create, store and securely share all of the important plans and information their family will need today and someday. Through a combination of original content, a personalized guidance engine, and an intuitively organized digital vault, Everplans helps people create a whole life and legacy plan that aggregates personal, financial, legal, health, estate and digital estate plans, information and documents in one simple and accessible place. For more information, please visit www.everplans.com.