All too often there are reports of a wealthy or famous person dying without an estate or legacy plan. Unfortunately, this is not an issue that only affects the wealthy.

According to a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones, Americans are not taking the most basic step of designating beneficiaries for all their accounts. In fact, only 24% said they are doing so.

And while 77% of Americans believe that estate and legacy strategies are important for everyone, the data showed they lack a sense of urgency in prioritizing legacy-planning conversations. Of Americans who work with financial advisors, 64% reported never having discussed estate goals and legacy plans with their financial advisor, the report showed.
Furthermore, only 34% of millennials and Gen Xers have discussed their estate/legacy goals with their financial advisors.

As for baby boomers, the generation most likely to need estate plans in the near future, only 38% indicated they have broached the subject with their financial advisor, the data showed.

Scott Thoma, principal with the investment strategy group at Edward Jones, said no financial plan is complete without a legacy strategy, but there are steps individuals can take now to make progress.

“Designating beneficiaries on each of your appropriate accounts is the simplest and quickest way to get started. To ensure loved ones are taken care of, it's crucial to review and update estate plans regularly, and most importantly, communicate these wishes to the beneficiaries throughout the process,” he said in a prepared statement.

The survey found that nearly all Americans (98%) who have discussed their estate/legacy goals with their financial advisors have updated their plan since creating it.

Additionally, 61% involved their family the last time they reviewed their estate/legacy plan with their financial advisor, and that number increases to 74% for Americans with children in the household.

The Edward Jones “Leaving a Legacy Survey” was conducted online in July. It included 2,007 adults comprising 1,003 men and 1,004 women 18 and older.