Only One-Third of Americans Have an Estate Plan, D.A. Davidson Survey Finds

October 11, 2022

D.A. Davidson & Co. today announced survey results revealing that only one in three (34%) adult Americans has an estate plan. Of those who do have an estate plan, 20% have not updated their plan in the last five years. 72% of women do not have an estate plan compared to 59% of men.

Similarly, only one-third of Americans (33%) have a health care power of attorney, and less than one-third (30%) accurately understand what a health care power of attorney is. Those who have worked with a financial professional were more likely to have a health care power of attorney than those who have not (50% vs. 20%). When it comes to different generations, 30% of Gen Z, 25% of Millennials and 27% of Gen X have a health care power of attorney in place.

“Americans are vastly underprepared to pass on their assets according to their wishes and to care for loved ones in the event of a medical emergency,” commented Andrew Crowell, Vice Chairman of Wealth Management at D.A. Davidson. “If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being prepared for life’s uncertainties, and creating a focused and detailed estate plan can do just that.”

Financial illiteracy and procrastination are deterring individuals from creating an estate plan

37% of individuals reported that they did not have an estate plan because they felt they did not have enough money to warrant needing one. That said, among those who have worked with a financial professional, procrastination was the biggest factor deterring them from creating an estate plan (44%).

The top reasons Americans cited for not having an estate plan are:

They think they do not have enough money to warrant needing one 37%
They just haven’t gotten around to it 32%
They don’t know what needs to be done or where to start 25%
They don’t think they need one because they don’t have dependents 16%
They think they are too expensive 13%
They are uncomfortable discussing death or money 11%

Working with an advisor can help

Working with a financial professional has a positive impact when it comes to creating an estate plan — with the number of those having a plan increasing significantly — from 18% to 56% — if they have worked with a professional at some point.

Those who have worked with a financial professional also feel more confident (39% vs. 26%) and prepared (33% vs. 20%) discussing their estate plan and end-of-life wishes than those who have never worked with one. Likewise, those who have a formal estate plan feel more confident (50% vs. 22%) and prepared (47% vs. 15%) discussing their estate plan and end-of-life wishes than those who do not.

“Working with a financial professional can make such an impact when it comes to coordinating these important elements of your financial plan,” added Crowell. “Estate planning can be a sensitive topic, and an advisor can really help bridge this knowledge — and coverage — gap.”


This Xcelerant Survey was conducted online by Directions Research. The survey was fielded from September 8-13, 2022, among a demographically balanced nationally representative sample of 2,094 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older.

About D.A. Davidson Companies

D.A. Davidson Companies is an employee-owned financial services firm offering a range of financial services and advice to individuals, corporations, institutions and municipalities nationwide. Founded in 1935 with corporate headquarters in Great Falls, Montana, and regional headquarters in Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Omaha and Seattle, the company has approximately 1,525 employees and offices in 27 states.

Subsidiaries include: D.A. Davidson & Co., a full-service investment firm providing wealth management, investment banking, equity and fixed income capital markets services, and advice; Davidson Investment Advisors, a professional asset management firm; D.A. Davidson Trust Company, a trust and wealth management company; and Davidson Fixed Income Management, a registered investment adviser providing fixed income portfolio and advisory services.

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The information in this communication has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable, but we cannot guarantee its/their accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion in the publication constitutes a solicitation or offer by D.A. Davidson or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities, options, or other financial instruments or provide any investment advice or service.