The new age of estate planning

The new age of estate planning

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends


Erin Bury (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Willful)

When the pandemic suddenly halted our day-to-day routine, many were forced to think about estate plans and end-of-life planning for the first time. Estate planning goes beyond just our physical assets in our digital age. In a world full of passwords and digital assets, you might be surprised by how millennials are changing their attitudes on end-of-life planning and digital handovers.

Rethinking estate planning

Making a will is probably not on your top to-do list. It may not even be on your list at all. The truth is, most millennials (72%) still don’t have a will. In a study we commissioned with 1Password and Trust & Will, we found that cost, lack of time, and confusion on the process are the main barriers to making a will for millennials. But without a will, descendants of the deceased would lose access to an average of $29,297. That’s A LOT of money.

When COVID-19 struck, it urged millennials to create or update their will. Fun fact: 16% of those with wills used an online platform like Willful.

Embracing difficult conversations

Canadian millennials are battling a hard truth: it’ll be their responsibility to handle their parent's end-of-life wishes when the time comes. This is easier said than done when in reality, millennials aren’t set up for success.

Wrapping up an estate is a lot of work. We found that individuals who have been an executor for someone’s estate said that accessing accounts after death was more complicated than expected.

More than half of millennials don’t know or don’t have access to their parents’ passwords for their online accounts, so it’s no surprise this task is more difficult than it should be. The good news? We found that the pandemic encouraged 15% of millennials to initiate the digital handover discussion in the past year, but this is a discussion more Canadians need to have.

The millennial way of passwords

Millennials are told to protect their passwords. But what happens when your loved ones need access to family photos in your cloud account or important financial statements? Without a solid password-sharing plan established, laying to rest our digital life will be harder than needed. So, where do millennials stand when it comes to storing their passwords and documents?

Surprisingly, millennials prefer old-school solutions as opposed to digital solutions such as cloud, password managers, or email. The survey found that more than half of (52%) millennials say they currently store their passwords by memory, and just under half of the millennials say that no one knows their passwords in case of an emergency. For important paperwork like birth certificates, seven in ten millennials say they keep theirs in a physical location such as a filing cabinet, safe, or safety deposit box.

So what?

COVID-19 has reshaped many aspects of our lives, from our daily routines to our attitudes about our finances and careers. Suddenly, Canadian millennials are facing their own mortality, talking about wills, and planning for death more than ever before. The shock of the pandemic pushed this generation to step into the role of the “sandwich” generation and found themselves handling their parents' financial affairs as well as their own.

As we continue to build up our digital life, we’re reminded to leave our successors in great hands by passing on access to the digital resources we use every day. This act of kindness will equip them to handle our after-life digital affairs and treasure memories from our legacy.

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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