Younger Adults Now More Likely to Have a Will, According to Survey

A new survey has found that motivated in part by the coronavirus pandemic, younger adults are now more likely to have a will than middle-aged adults. Nevertheless, the overall percentage of Americans with a will has dropped over the past several years.  

Posted on May 14, 2021

Caring.com’s 2021 estate planning survey found that for the first time since the survey began in 2015, 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to have a will than 35- to 54-year-olds, with 26.8 percent in the younger cohort saying they have estate planning documents compared to 22.5 percent in the older group. Some 35 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds responded that they were motivated by COVID-19 to start the estate planning process, leading to a 63 percent increase in the number of young adults with a will than pre-pandemic. 

The pandemic did not have the same effect on middle-aged and older adults. The survey found that the number of people aged 35 and up with estate planning documents went down this year, continuing a trend. The number of 35- to 54-year-olds with a will has decreased by 39 percent since 2019 and the number of people aged 55 or older with a will shrank 27 percent. While the overall percentage of respondents with a will in 2021 remains basically unchanged from 2020, the number of respondents with a will dropped from 40 percent in 2019 to 32.9 percent in 2021. 

The most common reason respondents gave for why they did not have a will was that they “haven’t gotten around to it,” (34.2 percent), followed by they “don’t have enough assets” (28.1 percent). The number of respondents saying they didn’t know how to get a will increased from 6.3 percent to 7.6 percent, but the percentage of people citing the expense as an excuse fell from 6.8 percent to 5.6 percent.

For an article on “Five Estate Planning Myths,” including “my estate isn’t big enough to need planning,” click here.

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