Utilizing a Family Decision-Making Lens to Examine Adults’ End-of-Life Planning Actions

Angela Woosley, Sharon M. Danes, Marlene Stum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Guided by Rettig’s family decision-making theory, the study investigated the effect of an adult child’s decision environment, an adult child’s decision-making perceptions, and a parent’s end-of-life (EOL) planning actions before death on an integrated measure of medical and financial EOL planning actions. Data came from Wave 3 of the public use data of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Results indicated that household net worth, parent’s completion of a living will before death, and adult children’s avoidance of death ideation explained the greatest proportion of variance in adult children’s EOL planning actions. Results also indicated that women, those married, and those with higher education did more EOL planning. Practitioners can use this information to close accessibility gaps due to net worth differences, advocate for a more unified approach to EOL planning, and shift the focus of discussions of death from the death itself to a life well lived.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research uses data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1991, the WLS has been supported principally by the National Institute on Aging (AG-9775, AG-21079, AG-033285, and AG-041868), with additional support from the Vilas Estate Trust, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1992, data have been collected by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center. A public use file of data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is available from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 and at http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/wlsresearch/data/ . This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adult children
  • End-of-life planning
  • Estate planning
  • Families


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