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New Nolo Quicken WillMaker research reveals why millennials are drafting estate plans much earlier than previous generations
[September 13, 2022]

New Nolo Quicken WillMaker research reveals why millennials are drafting estate plans much earlier than previous generations

Repeated economic distress causes millennials to make estate plans sooner, including directives for pet care and charity donations after death.

PLEASANTON, Calif., Sept. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The estate planning experts behind Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust have identified new insights about what motivates young people to create wills and what unique concerns they have when making their estate plans. 

It's no secret that the younger population is the least likely to complete an estate plan. According to Nolo's research, millennials are the largest age group of the U.S. population — comprising 22% — and most of them do not have wills. 

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the younger population's lack of estate plans. The most significant is the perception that young people do not need end of life planning unless they have children or a lot of money.

In fact, Nolo research found that 51% of American adults with a yearly household income between $40,000 and $90,000 do not have a will. Further, in a survey of individuals who have estate plans, 34% of people said they did not have a will until they had a child

"Many people believe that if they don't have a lot of assets or if they're young, they don't need a will," said Betsy Simmons Hannibal, a Senior Legal Editor at Nolo who specializes in estate planning. "But that's not the case. It's important for everyone to have a legal plan in place that spells out their wishes.

"With WillMaker, people can create wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and other important documents at a low cost, and without the need for an attorney," Hannibal added. "WillMaker users enjoy immediate, online access to easy-to-use software that helps them create customized estate plans from home." 

A Different Perspective on Death vs. Previous Generations

Millennials may, however, be on track to put together estate plans earlier than previous generations. Many millennials have already experienced several significant financial challenges, including repercussions from 9/11, the Great Recession in 2008, crushing student loan debt and the COVID19 pandemic. As a result, millennials may be the first in many generations to be financially worse off than their parents. 

"Due to the economic challenges that they have experienced, millennials have a heightened concern about the future and have become keen planners for later life events, such as their children's college education and retirement," Hannibal said. "So, it makes sense that millennials are starting to make end-of-life plans much earlier than previous generations."

In addition to the typical reasons to create an estate plan — including the ability to name executors, direct assets, name financial agents, lay out wishes for health care and decide who will care for children after a parent's death — emerging trends show that millennials have additional unique goals for their end-of-life planning.

Around 32% of millennials are pet owners, and of those pet owners who have wills, 77% designate someone in their will to act as a pet guardian in the event of their death. 

In its 2022 Giving Report, Fidelity Charitable states that nearly three-quarters of millennials (74%) consider themselves philanthropists. That designation is reflected in millennials' wills as more individuals are choosing to leave money to a charity

Top charities named in millennials' wills include St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Planned Parenthood, Girl Scouts of the USA, Alzheimer's Association, World Wide Fund for Nature and The Trevor Project. 

COVID-19's Impact on Wills

The pandemic triggered 32% of U.S. adults under the age of 35 to write a will. Of that population, 21% of individuals ages 18 to 35 drafted a will specifically because someone close to them contracted COVID-19. In fact, sales for Nolo's Quicken WillMaker nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020. 

"My parents died from COVID-19 and it was really difficult to handle their estate after their death because they didn't have a solid estate plan," a new WillMaker customer shared with Nolo. "After that experience, there was family pressure to draft my own." 

Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2023 is available now in downloadable and cloud-based versions. 

About WillMaker

Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust helps people create an estate plan from home. Customers can make wills, trusts, powers of attorney, transfer on death deeds, living wills and other important documents for everyone in their immediate family at a low cost. Nolo's expert attorneys continuously update WillMaker to meet the laws of each state.

About Nolo

Nolo offers thousands of do-it-yourself products, including legal forms, online documents, books and ebooks, and software to help individuals handle legal issues themselves, without the need for an attorney. With Nolo products, individuals can generate a customized estate plan, file for divorce or create an LLC in just minutes. Nolo's products are in plain English, easy to use, and created and updated by attorneys and legal editors.


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