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Coronavirus: Sharp increase in millennials preparing wills

Abigail Fenton
·3-min read
Young Brits are drawing up wills as pandemic leads to 'increased awareness of mortality'. (Melinda Gimpel/Unsplash)
Young Brits are drawing up wills as pandemic leads to 'increased awareness of mortality'. Photo: Melinda Gimpel/Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive surge in the number of millennials drawing up wills in recent months, data shows.

The number of Brits under the aged of 35 writing wills in April 2020 — in the midst of the lockdown — was 12 times higher than it was pre-coronavirus in December 2019, will writer Farewill revealed.

The data also shows an increasing number of young people are choosing to leave money to charity, with millennials leaving a total of about £28,000 ($37,300) — £25,000 each — as legacy gifts.

With health issues dominating the media in 2020, charities like Macmillan, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and Mental Health Foundation have proven popular, while The Vegan Society and Greenpeace are also among favoured organisations.

On top of this, with many struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus crisis, millennials are placing less value on expensive and extravagant material items for loved ones, and more on sentimental items such as books, travel related keepsakes — e.g. home furnishings from other countries they’ve visited — and “experiences” — for example, hotel points and air travel miles.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials are more likely to leave tech and gadgets, including laptops, phones and tablets, to their loved ones, reflecting the increasing importance of technology in younger generations’ lives.

On top of this, two in five millennials choose to leave a personalised message, such as notes with instructions for their wake, or even inside jokes, the data shows.

This trend is likely the result of “increased awareness of morality” off the back of the pandemic, Farewill said.

Laura Dixon, a 33-year-old HR employee based in London, wrote a will with Farewill in May. “I had never considered making a will before, and the pandemic has definitely made me think ahead. To be honest, it’s one of those things that’s always been on my life admin lists and I just never got round to it before now,” she said.

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“I’m single and don’t have children and so it’s not as simple as my belongings will go to them. Although I don’t have vast savings or a big pension yet, I do have a property and items that have bought me simple pleasures and it’s those I’d like to ensure go to the right people.

“My brother and I have an ongoing joke about this big, antique butcher’s block I bought on a whim one day. I’m adamant it’s going to make an amazing feature in my house one day, he think its tasteless and weird. I’ve left it to him in my will, along with a tongue-in-cheek item that I know he always loved the butcher’s block and I’m sure he’ll take good care of it. It’ll make him laugh when he reads it.”

She added: “The other thing I did was leave my best friend all of my clothes. She always jokingly asks that if I die, she gets my wardrobe. So I’ve done just that.”

However, it’s not just millennials who have been preparing for death, recently. Three times as many Brits have made wills in the past two months, and 16% said they started their will because they know someone who died without one during the coronavirus crisis.