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Exclusive: ClearEstate poll shows estate settlement among “life’s most difficult tasks”

Maru Public Opinion asked over 1500 Americans about their expectations of estate settlement and the challenges faced by executors.

Clear Estate poll shows estate settlement among lifes most difficult tasks

The founders of ClearEstate know all too well how complex and unfair the estate settlement process can be, but most may not be prepared for what executors say is a surprisingly painful experience.

A new poll of over 1500 Americans prepared by Maru Public Opinion exclusively for ClearEstate indicates that of those who have a will (41%), nine-in-ten (90%) have appointed a person in their immediate or extended family to act as the executor of their estate—often an unknown and challenging burden until they’re needed.

90% of executors describe their role as one of the most difficult experiences ever.

Executors Report Challenges, Stress, and Little Guidance

Three quarters (74%) of those Americans who have acted as an executor for an estate of someone who has passed away indicate that experiencing the death of a parent, spouse and/or partner was one of the most difficult challenges of their life while two-thirds (63%) offered up that it also disrupted their personal and/or professional life.

And no wonder for many: almost half (47%) of executors report they were offered little guidance by anyone during the estate settlement process, and for more than four-in-ten (42%) of them, it was an ordeal that took longer than one full year; for just under a third (30%), it took more than two years to complete the process.

It’s no surprise then, that among those appointed executors, a majority (53%) admitted that settling the estate of a parent, spouse, and/or partner was one of the most difficult challenges of their life.

And while, on average, half of Americans (50%) say that experiencing the death of a parent, spouse and/or partner was one of the most difficult mental health challenges they’ve ever faced, those who have acted as an executor reported a significant and disproportionate level of stress (74%).

executors are stressed, have no idea how to settle an estate

The truth about executorship

Experiencing the death of a loved one is devastating. If you’ve simultaneously taken on the role of their estate’s executor, the additional stress can be overwhelming.

ClearEstate’s study found that while nine in ten family members accept the offer to become an executor, half admit that they received little guidance on the role.

Not only were most unprepared, it also disrupted their personal and professional lives and their mental health at disproportionate levels compared to those mourning loved ones without the added responsibility of executorship.

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Grief in the Workplace

With the pandemic-era trend of Bereavement Benefits packages for employees gaining in popularity, ClearEstate also explored the challenges faced by those mourning in the workplace and found only one-third (36%) of Americans felt supported by their employer when they experienced the death of a parent, spouse and/or partner.

The study also uncovered the extent to which fellow employees can find it difficult in addressing someone in their workplace who has experienced the loss of a loved one—one third (36%) of Americans and almost half (45%) of former executors admitted that when a work colleague experienced the death of a parent, spouse, and/or partner, they said it was difficult to address the grief of that person.

Similarly, one quarter (25%) of Americans and four-in-ten (37%) former executors felt that work colleagues had difficulty talking to them about their loss when it had occurred.

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The Central Question

Experiencing the death of a parent, spouse/partner, or a member of the immediate or extended family, can be devastating at any time – but expect to add to that if you have accepted the role as an executor.

The study lays bare that nine-in-ten family members are accepting the offer to become an executor with half admitting that they received little guidance on how to go about their responsibilities when they had to act. Not only were most unprepared for the task but it also disrupted their own personal and professional lives, along with their mental health, to a disproportionate level of those who were affected by the passing of a loved one.

Given this, it begs the question: is there a better way for those who have accepted the responsibility of being estate executors to better prepare for and deal with the duties during one of the most difficult times of their lives?


These are some of the findings released by Maru Public Opinion from a survey undertaken January 10/11, 2021, by its panel and data collection experts at Maru/Blue of 1518 randomly selected American adults who are Maru Springboard America online panelists. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender, and region to match the population according to Census data which ensures the sample is representative of the entire adult population of the United States. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.

Maru Public Opinion is the full-service consumer-citizen public opinion research channel for the Maru Group. Maru Public Opinion does not do any polling for any political party or candidate.

Maru/Blue is deeply rooted in the Maru/Hub technology platform and offers on-demand, high quality, highly scalable online community samples of deeply engaged, known respondents.

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