While “millennials” may conjure images of reckless youth among aging baby boomers and even members of Generation X, the reality is that millennials aren’t as young people think anymore. Sure, the youngest Millennials who were born in 1996 are in their mid-20s by now, but most of this generation is well into their 30s and closer to mid-life than ever before.
That means millennials are holding down steady careers, starting families, owning homes, and building wealth – even if they’re doing those things at reduced rates compared to their parents. That also means millennials and their families have a lot more to lose if they pass away without an estate plan.
According to findings published in February 2021 by Trust & Will, there was a noticeable surge in estate planning among millennials in 2020. Approximately 78% of 20,000 millennials surveyed by Trust & Will said they created a will during 2020, while only 16% of millennials chose to establish trusts. Again, however, that could be because they aren’t owning real estate or accumulating wealth as effectively as previous generations have.
What Led Millennials toward Estate Planning in 2020?
The COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 was perhaps the first time most people in the U.S. – but especially millennials – confronted a tangible threat to their mortality on a mass scale. Even so, Trust & Will found that the pandemic only ranked as the second-most common reason (at around 17%) why millennials opted to create estate plans in 2020.
The primary reason? Having a child! Yes, 38% of millennials surveyed in 2020 said having children was the main reason why they decided to begin estate planning in 2020. That should be no surprise since many people who hold out on estate planning ultimately follow through when they want to ensure their children, stepchildren, and other descendants are protected for the future.
Other Estate Planning Trends for Millennials
Trust & Will’s survey also noticed other trends among millennials that may be unique among their generation. One of these was pet guardianship: Nearly all pet owners appointed guardians for their pets, ostensibly to ensure their furry friends wouldn’t be sent to a shelter or rescue organization.
Another trend the surveyors noticed was that 7% of those surveyed said they left a percentage of their estate or a specific dollar amount to charity. The top charities millennials named in their wills included St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (23%), ASPCA (6%), Planned Parenthood (8%), Girl Scouts of the USA (6%), and the American Cancer Society (4%).
Perhaps inspired by social justice actions during 2020, millennials also left charitable bequests to social justice organizations, like The Black Lives Matter Foundation (1%).
Have You Created Your Estate Plan?
Most estimates say that nearly 60% of Americans don’t have an estate plan. That means whether you’re considered a millennial or a member of a different generation, chances are you don’t even have a basic will in place to protect your loved ones.
Remember that dying intestate (without any estate planning) means that the government determines who inherits your estate and how much of it during probate. You can help your relatives avoid costly and time-consuming proceedings – or probate altogether – by establishing a will and/or a trust.
We at The Law Offices of James C. Shields can help make this happen and ensure your loved ones are protected no matter what should happen to you.
For more information about how we can help, contact us online or call (310) 626-4404.