Will(ful) Neglect: Survey Reveals Nearly 60% of Americans Unprepared for the Inevitable

New survey by LegalShield reveals nearly 60% of Americans are unprepared for the inevitable and do not have a will. (Graphic: Business Wire)

ADA, Okla.--()--The verdict is in: America is woefully unprepared when it comes to estate planning. A new survey by LegalShield lays bare a shocking truth – while 90% of Americans know the importance of having a will, almost 6 in 10 have yet to take action and protect their loved ones.

The nationwide survey tapped into the fears and uncertainties surrounding end-of-life preparations. Nearly half (46%) of respondents confessed to not knowing where to begin, while nearly 3 in 4 (72%) shied away from will-making, fearing an out-of-reach price tag.

“It’s never too early or too late to bridge the gap. It’s not hard to do and more affordable than most people think,” said Ashley Higginbotham, attorney with Deming, Parker, Hoffman, Campbell & Daly LLC. “Our firm has prepared thousands of wills, and without fail, we see the stress melt away from clients when they take this important step for themselves and their loved ones.”

Respondents without a will cite the following reasons for putting estate planning off:

  • 46% don’t know where to begin
  • 26% don’t have a lawyer to help them
  • 21% cite expense

The survey revealed the following additional insights:

  • 58% experienced conflict, or know someone who has, due to the absence of an estate plan or will
  • 56% of those with a spouse/partner don’t have a will
  • 37% of adult children who know their parents have a will don’t know where it is
  • 22% with a will have never updated it
  • 36% say there are surprises for their beneficiaries in their wills

“These results shine a light on how inaccessible the legal system has become for most Americans,” said Warren Schlichting, LegalShield CEO. “Professional estate planning can be affordable and accessible, and LegalShield is dedicated to fixing this problem.”

LegalShield connects members directly with vetted lawyers for life’s expected and unexpected moments for under a dollar a day. LegalShield provider law firms handle approximately 50,000 wills annually for members.

The LegalShield survey was conducted in July 2023 and surveyed 1,316 adults, ages 18 and older, who live in the United States. The sample was balanced by age, among other demographic variables, according to the U.S. Census.

About Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“LegalShield”)

A trailblazer in the democratization of affordable access to legal advice, counsel, protection, and representation, LegalShield is one of the world's largest platforms for legal, identity, and reputation management services protecting individuals and businesses across North America. Founded in 1972, LegalShield, and its privacy management product, IDShield, has provided individuals, families, businesses, and employers with tools and services needed to affordably live a just and secure life. Through technology and innovation, LegalShield is disrupting the traditional legal system and transforming how and where people receive legal guidance and services, with access to thousands of qualified, trusted attorneys and law firms. LegalShield and IDShield are products of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. To learn more about LegalShield and IDShield, visit LegalShield.com and IDShield.com.


LegalShield Media Contact:
Hollon Kohtz, Director of Publicity


LegalShield Media Contact:
Hollon Kohtz, Director of Publicity