Caring.com Study Finds 1 in 5 Americans Died from COVID-19 Without Leaving Behind an Estate Plan
Nearly half of respondents who suffered from severe cases of the virus now have a will, but many who died due to COVID-19 left their loved ones without a clear picture of their end-of-life wishes
CHARLOTTE, NC; June 20, 2022 – Caring.com, a leading senior living referral service and the nation’s top site for senior care reviews, has published a recent study that examines the impact of COVID-19 on estate planning. The study provides insight into how personal experiences with the virus have shaped the way Americans approach end-of-life planning. Caring’s research experts examined responses from two separate surveys – both conducted in early 2022.
According to the study, 1 out of 5 Americans who died from COVID-19 had no estate plan in place. Forty-four percent of respondents say their loved ones had not filed any estate planning documents or they were unaware of any. The majority of respondents did indicate that they had some type of estate planning document: 23 percent prepared a will, 18 percent established a living trust and 16 percent had a different kind of estate plan.
For those who had a serious case and survived, survey results indicate that COVID-19 was a motivator to obtain a will – 48 percent of respondents who had a serious case of COVID-19 say they have a will. COVID-19 also motivated the loved ones of those who had a serious case of COVID-19. Forty-two percent of Americans who had second-hand experience with COVID-19 have an estate planning document. In comparison, only 29 percent of Americans without first or second-hand experience with the virus have a will, living trust, or any estate planning document.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for Americans,” says Jim Rosenthal, CEO of Caring.com. “The increased exposure to sickness and death encouraged many people to become more proactive about end-of-life care and planning. Based on our study findings, there’s a need to increase awareness about estate planning and for more Americans to establish their end-of-life documents.”
Young adults are also more likely to engage in estate planning due to COVID-19. Twenty-nine percent of respondents aged 18-34 took action to obtain estate planning documents due to COVID-19. Middle-aged adults and seniors are less likely to be influenced by the pandemic. Only 22 percent of respondents in the 35-54 age group said COVID-19 motivated them to take steps to prepare an estate plan. Likewise, 13 percent of Americans aged 55 or older said the pandemic prompted them to start estate planning.
Caring.com conducted two separate surveys in 2022 – the information in this study is derived from those surveys. One survey was administered via the online survey platform Pollfish, and includes responses from 1,000 Americans who lost a family member due to COVID-19. The other survey is Caring.com’s annual estate planning study conducted in partnership with YouGov and surveyed 2,600+ American adults. To review survey results, infographics, and estate planning basics, visit https://www.caring.com/caregivers/estate-planning/wills-survey/covid-19.