Is COVID changing how we plan for the future?

Family surrounding a dog in a garden

Writing a Will has three major benefits:

  • You can ensure your wishes are carried out.
  • Personal bequests got to the people and charities that you want to benefit.
  • You don’t leave a stressful situation for family and friends to sort out after your death.

The difficult times we have lived through since March 2020 appear to have prompted more people to draw up Wills.

Will writing service Farewill reported a 267% increase in people making a Will from home compared to 2019.  There have also been reports of more disputes over Wills.

Insurers Legal & General decided to launch a survey to find out how our views on making Wills may have changed since COVID-19 emerged.

How old are the people who are making Wills?

Some couples have sensibly made Wills when they start living together, when they take on their first joint mortgage, or when they marry. It’s something we recommend. It’s not always the case that your estate passes to your partner if you are not married.

Traditionally, making a Will has been something that many people only think about later in life when their house has increased in value and they have acquired some savings perhaps.

Legal & General found that about 39% of people aged 25 to 34 have a Will, compared to 61% who don’t. The average across all UK adults is that 47% have a Will, and 53% don’t.

But, attitudes are changing with more than a fifth (22%) of respondents aged 16-24 strongly agreeing that their perspective on Will writing had changed since the pandemic.

Among those who said they had updated their Will recently, 18% of young people (aged 16-24) said they did so after falling ill from COVID-19. Only 1% of respondents who were 55 and over said that was why they had updated their Will.

Why make a Will?

Legal & General’s survey asked people to give their top reasons for making a Will.

Some 47% of respondents said an important reason was to make sure their assets were left to the right people while 43% said it was to ensure that their family was provided for financially. Being able to specify who would manage their financial affairs was a reason for 32% of people and 18% said it was so they could say who would look after their children.

Moving down the list, other top reasons were: to avoid paying more inheritance tax than necessary (13%); ‘the pandemic has made me more aware of my mortality’ (12%) and to give to charity (9%).

Our four-legged friends

As dog-lovers ourselves, we were interested to see that 9% of people gave the reason ‘to state who should care for my pets’.

The survey found that overall 5% of respondents said they would be leaving assets to provide for their dog, cat or other pet companion. The percentage rose to 15% in the 16-24 age group – the highest out of any other age group. Perhaps this was influenced by the trend of buying pets since Covid-19 was identified. The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Associations claims that 3.2 million pets were bought during lockdown.

What would make you write your Will?

In answer to the question ‘If you do not have a Will, what would make you write one?’ some 35% of people said it would be if they came into money. We believe that people often underestimate the value of what they have to leave.

Four Oaks Solicitor Joanna Parkin said: “We would advise anyone who has not yet made a Will to talk to a solicitor to understand exactly what makes up your Estate. It could be more than you think – and most people want to be in control of who benefits.”

Falling ill, getting older or having children were also popular reasons that those without Wills gave for what might make them change their minds.

Joanna added: “None of us know what the future holds, and the pandemic has made a lot of people realise that, but there are still many people who have not made a Will. My colleagues and I work hard to make the process as easy and pleasant as possible, and many clients tell us that once they’ve made a Will they feel a powerful sense of relief and peace of mind.”

The full Legal & General survey press release can be read at www.legalandgeneral.com/insurance/over-50-life-insurance/wills/planning-for-future

We are available to talk through options with you and advise you on how to structure your Will to achieve your aims.

Image by CDC on Unsplash.