U.S. Trust goes to great lengths to understand the values, needs and aspirations of wealthy Americans. Our annual Insights on Wealth and Worth survey, the largest study of its kind, takes the pulse of high net worth Americans on wealth management needs ranging from investing to trust and estate planning to philanthropy. The 2013 study revealed unrecognized risks the wealthy face as they adapt to a changing investment climate and new tax rules.

Selected Insights

Lower Risk Still Trumps Higher Returns

Nearly two-thirds of HNW investors say that lowering risk, and achieving a lower potential return, is a higher priority than pursuing higher returns by taking on more risk. Younger investors (under age 49) are slightly less risk-averse than those age 49 or older.

Source: 2013 U.S. Trust, Insights on Wealth and Worth

Tax Law Changes Are Not Well Understood

Most (69%) HNW investors aren't changing investment strategy to seek tax-efficient investments or minimize taxes.

Two-thirds (66%) do not feel well-informed about the impact of tax law changes on investment returns. More women (73%) than men (62%) do not feel well-informed about tax law changes.

Source: 2013 U.S. Trust, Insights on Wealth and Worth

Financial Support For Extended Family is Poorly Planned

Nearly half (46%) of all respondents say they provide substantial financial support for adult members of their family.

Yet more than two-thirds (69%) do not have a financial plan that factors in the needs of any adult family member, other than their spouse or partner.

Source: 2013 U.S. Trust, Insights on Wealth and Worth

Estate Planning Tends to be Incomplete

The top three cited goals of estate planning are meeting the needs of a spouse / partner, minimizing taxes and minimizing the burden of estate settlement.

Though three-quarters (74%) of the wealthy have a will, 72 percent do not have a comprehensive estate plan.

And at least two-thirds of respondents have never established a trust.

Source: 2013 U.S. Trust, Insights on Wealth and Worth

Family Health is a Threat to Family Wealth

Nearly half (47%) have a financial plan to cover long-term care costs for themselves and a spouse or partner, but only 18% have a plan to cover long-term care costs for their parents.

Younger respondents (Gen Y) are more likely than Baby Boomers to have established a financial plan, or to have financed the cost of long-term care or long-term care insurance for their parents.

Source: 2013 U.S. Trust, Insights on Wealth and Worth

Contact a U.S. Trust® advisor to discuss how these findings may have an impact on your own wealth planning.

Survey Methodology: U.S. Trust 2013 Insights on Wealth and Worth is based on a nationwide survey of 711 high net worth and ultra high net worth adults with at least $3 million in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residence. Among respondents, 33 percent have between $3 million and $5 million in investable assets, 33 percent have between $5 million and $10 million and 34 percent have $10 million or more. The survey was conducted online by the independent research firm Phoenix Marketing International in March of 2013. Asset information was self-reported by the respondent. Verification for respondent qualification occurred at the panel company, using algorithms in place to ensure consistency of information provided, and was confirmed with questions from the survey itself. All data have been tested for statistical significance at the 95 percent confidence level.

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The wealthy are feeling optimistic and financially secure, but many are overlooking hidden risks that threaten to derail their wealth and family health goals.
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