Parents of Children Under 18 Even Less Likely to Have Wills

SAN MATEO, CA – Feb. 6, 2017 – Only 42% of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust, according to a new report. The percentage is even lower among those with children under age 18 (36%).

See more findings from the January 2017 Wills & Health Care Power of Attorney survey.

As age increases, it’s more likely that someone has estate planning documents. Just one in five millennials (ages 18-36) has a will or living trust. For Generation X (37-52 year-olds), the figure is 36%, and it’s 58% for Baby Boomers (ages 53-71). A whopping 81% of those in the Silent Generation (age 72+) have a will or living trust.

Among those who don’t have estate documents, the main reasons are: “I just haven’t gotten around to it” (47%) and “I don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone” (29%).

Medical/health care powers of attorney are more common than wills/living trusts. 53% of U.S. adults have granted someone legal authorization to make decisions on their medical care if they are unable to do so. The likelihood increases with age, from 41% of millennials to 83% of the Silent Generation.

“It’s not just a concern for older people – everyone who is 18 or older should have a health care power of attorney,” said vice president Katie Roper. “If your college-age son or daughter, God forbid, were seriously injured in a car accident, you as the parent could not even find out they were in the hospital, let alone discuss their condition with physicians, without this document in place.”

Republicans, Democrats and independents are all essentially as likely to have health care powers of attorney (55%, 53% and 54%, respectively). There’s a big difference when it comes to wills, however. 58% of Republicans have one versus just 38% of Democrats and 37% of independents.

See an infographic with key findings from the survey and a video on estate planning basics.

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,003 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (502) and cell phone (501, including 312 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from January 19-22, 2017. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.