Every adult can eliminate the risk of losing control of personal health decisions and financial resources by having a last will and testament, health proxy, power of attorney, and living trust. Yet evidence suggests that less than a majority of adult Americans have these documents. We surveyed 900 adult Americans (25 plus years old) to determine what factors predict the possession of these risk-reducing documents. In total, 46% had a living will and testament, 32% a durable power of attorney, 30% a health proxy, and 18% a living trust. Events that prompt people with wealth to secure these documents, such as increasing age, getting married, having children, and experiencing a life-threatening event were the strongest predictors of having a will. These were also among the strongest predictors of having a health proxy, along with a personal history of being proactive, and a family history that fostered trust of attorneys. Affluence, age, and education were the strongest predictors of having a living trust, and the strongest correlate of having a durable power of attorney was having faced a life-threatening event, positive experiences with attorneys, and higher educational achievement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Physiology (medical)
- Legal documents
- Life-threatening events