Pandemic planning - will the increase in will writing during Covid continue?


The Guardian's article looking at how our lives have changed during the pandemic notes a number of significant differences pre- and post-Covid.  The rise of country living over city dwelling, online shopping, socialising, and streaming entertainment are just some of the ways we have adapted in the last two years.  The article also speculates as to whether such changes will prove to be long-term cultural shifts, or if we will gradually return to our old habits - people are already returning to the high street and to pubs and restaurants, for example.

As Private Client lawyers, the section that catches the eye is the one discussing the significant increase in people writing their wills, particularly among the under-25s, not an age group generally noted for its attention to estate planning!

Certainly, for those in their 20s and beyond, especially those with children, a continued upward trend in will making would be hugely welcome.  Private Client lawyers and other will writers have banged on for years, probably generations, about the importance of writing a will.  There are many good reasons, but what they all boil down to is to try to make life as easy as possible for those you leave behind.

There are many things your grieving relatives will have to deal with after you die, and to be left with no idea of what you would have wanted makes everything harder.  This includes the destination of money and other property you owned. Without a will in place, your estate will all pass to one or more specified people under a strict set of intestacy rules, allowing no flexibility to benefit a long-time friend or more distant relative, or even a favourite charity, as you might have wished to do.

However, the process of writing a will also allows you to think about more practical and immediate concerns - you can set out the arrangements you would like for your funeral, make a list of your bank accounts and investments, online and otherwise, and keep that list in the same place as your will.

Also think about your digital assets, whether they are of financial value, like cryptocurrency or other crypto-assets, or sentimental, such as a social media account or photos stored on iCloud or Google.  Every platform has a different policy, so check those for your digital information and sign up for any schemes that are available (e.g. Apple's Digital Legacy).  Whatever the nature of the asset, and whether there is a legacy scheme available or not, make sure that they are included in your will and that you make a carefully secured record of all relevant details to enable your executors to access them after your death.

These are just some of the things to think about when writing a will, but bear in mind that all the time you spend on it will be worth it to make things easier for your family after your death.  For this reason, even if making wills is the only lockdown habit that sticks with us as we enter post-pandemic life, it will be a positive step forward.

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According to Farewill, which says it is the UK’s biggest will writer, the number of Britons making financial plans for after they die almost tripled in 2020. The biggest increase was among under-35s, with a 23% increase in will-writing among Generation Z, those aged 10-25.
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