Ken Cella, Scott Thoma, Alison Carnie: October 1, 2019


Survey Finds Most Americans Are Leaving Crucial Estate Planning Decisions to Chance;

Simple Steps Americans Can Take to Put a Legacy Strategy in Place


KEN CELLA, Principal – Head of Client Strategies Group, Edward Jones; a financial and estate planning expert

SCOTT THOMA, CFA, CFP®, – Head of Client Needs Research, Edward Jones; a financial and estate planning expert

ALISON CARNIE, CFP®, Chief Administration Officer, Edward Jones Trust Company


It may come as a surprise to some that most Americans have not taken the most basic steps toward planning for their legacy. According to a recent survey by financial services firm Edward Jones, 77% of Americans believe that estate and legacy strategies are important for everyone, not just wealthy individuals, yet only 24% of Americans are taking the most basic step of designating beneficiaries for all of their accounts.


Fortunately, the Americans who do have estate and legacy plans in place are committed to updating them and involving their families in the process. Edward Jones financial and estate planning experts are available for live interviews to discuss the simple steps Americans can take to put in place a properly planned estate strategy.


Some of their tips include:

·             DESIGNATE BENEFICIARIES:  More than half (62%) of Americans have not designated beneficiaries for any of their accounts.

·             MEET WITH YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR: Nearly two thirds of Americans who said that they have worked with a financial advisor reported never having discussed estate goals and legacy plans with their financial advisor, demonstrating a lack of urgency in making these financial conversations a priority.

·             REVIEW AND UPDATE YOUR PLAN:  As beneficiaries, survey respondents indicated the top three most important things their parents did or can do for them before they die include: having a will/legacy strategy in place, paying off all their current outstanding debt, and telling them where their money and assets are held. 

·             COMMUNICATE YOUR WISHES TO YOUR FAMILY: Part of reviewing and updating your plan includes communicating with your beneficiaries, which is key to ensuring that your estate goes to those you care about most.


More information including helpful estate planning resources can be found by visiting:



Ken Cella leads the Client Strategies Group, which includes the firm’s Marketing, Products, Research and Trading, and Solutions areas. Cella is a member of the firm’s Executive and Management Committees and is the senior executive sponsor for the Inclusion Council and the Hispanic Business Resource Group. He serves on the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Board of Directors and Private Client Group Steering Committee. Cella serves on the St. Louis Regional Chamber Executive Committee, University of Missouri-St. Louis Chancellor’s Council, Washington University in St. Louis Danforth Circle Committee and Bauer Leadership Center Advisory Board, and Concordance Academy of Leadership Board of Directors.


Scott Thoma began his career with Edward Jones in May 2000 and is responsible for the Strategy team in Research, which includes Investment Strategy and Client Needs Research. Thoma focuses on developing the firm’s advice and guidance based on clients’ needs, including the guidance for clients preparing for and living in retirement. He is also co-chair of the firm’s Investment Policy Committee. Thoma has been a guest on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, PBS’ Nightly Business Report and Bloomberg and has been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s and the Boston Globe. He was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list in 2015.



Alison Carnie serves as director of Trust Services and chief administration officer of the Edward Jones Trust Company. In this role, she is responsible for the delivery of trust new business support, trust administration, estate settlement services, and trust special asset administration. Carnie received her bachelor’ s degree in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and received a Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law.



Produced for: Edward Jones

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