Estate Planning

Why Are Americans Drafting Wills?

Nearly two-thirds say Covid is a key motivator

A new survey by Forbes Advisor sheds light on what motivated Americans to create a will or take out a life insurance policy, and why many are still hesitant to have a plan in place. Reprinted with permission. View full survey data here.

Covid-19 has forced Americans to take stock of their lives and led many to consider their own mortality. That includes making out wills and buying life insurance.

A new Forbes Advisor survey found that many Americans have responded to the pandemic by making sure their loved ones are financially cared for if they pass away. In the survey, 64% of those with wills said they made out a will because of Covid-19. Younger adults in particular used the pandemic as a catalyst to look ahead to a time when they’re no longer here.

Excerpts from the survey:

  • Younger Americans are more likely to have a will than middle-aged people or seniors.
  • 64% of Americans currently with a will said Covid-19 spurred their decision to make a will; more than 70% of those respondents were between the ages of 18–41.
  • Despite the pandemic spurring more Americans to make a will, 47% of respondents still do not have a will.
  • Having children is the #1 reason people would be inspired to make a will.
  • Covid-19 influenced younger adults (18–41) to buy life insurance or additional coverage — more than any other age group.
  • Women are less likely to have life insurance than men, and 19% of women solely rely on life insurance through work, likely making them underinsured.

More Wills Written Because of Covid-19

Among people who have wills, more than 70% between ages 18 to 41 said they created a will as a direct result of Covid-19.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic spurring more Americans to make out a will, many people still don’t have a plan in effect. Slightly less than half of the people surveyed said they have a will. It’s especially an issue among women, with only 39% saying they have a will.

Do You Have a Will?

Younger Americans are actually more likely to say they have a will than middle-aged people and even seniors.

Among those who don’t have a will, the most common reason for not having one is that they don’t have enough money or assets to leave behind. Other reasons for not having a will include not knowing where to start, not having the time and thinking that making out a will is too expensive.

Ways to Own Life Insurance

Term life policies offer a period of steady rates that won’t change, such as 10, 20 or 30 years, and can be a vital piece of a financial plan if you have a mortgage or children...

Forbes Advisor’s survey found that one-third of men only have life insurance through work, which likely makes them underinsured. A substantial number of women (19%) also rely solely on workplace life.

Supplemental life insurance through an employer is a nice perk that usually costs little to no money for the employee. Nevertheless, workplace life insurance typically has small death benefit amounts. And once the person leaves the employer, they typically also lose that life insurance coverage.

Do you have life insurance? 

Many older adults don’t have life insurance coverage, which likely reflects their life stage. As people enter retirement or no longer have dependents, the need for life insurance often decreases. Among those ages 58 and older, 64% don’t have life insurance, compared to just 9% of people between ages 18 to 25.

The good news for people looking for life insurance is that policies cost less than they may think. Term life insurance is usually the most affordable type of life insurance. Term life policies offer a period of steady rates that won’t change, such as 10, 20 or 30 years, and can be a vital piece of a financial plan if you have a mortgage or children.

Forbes Advisor’s research found that the average term life insurance rates for a 20-year, $1 million policy could cost a 30-year-old woman just $29 a month. That’s one reason why it’s vital to get a policy when you’re young and healthy. Rates for life insurance buyers—even very healthy ones—go up with every birthday. For instance, a 50-year-old woman would pay $105 on average monthly for a 20-year, $1 million term life policy.

Check out Forbes Advisor’s Life Insurance Calculator to help figure out how much coverage you need. The calculator asks a handful of questions and provides an instant life insurance need estimate.




Survey Methodology
This online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact