Covid Forces Millennials to Face Their Mortality
Young people don’t often think about dying. Traditionally, mortality is something people face later in life. Most people begin estate planning after accumulating considerable assets and a family. However, the Covid pandemic has seen a marked shift in the demographic of people drafting up wills. In 2022, it’s the young who are contemplating what will happen when they die.
Writing your will is essential if you are to make clear your wishes after death. With a will, you can choose who receives your assets and what they receive. But for millennials, who range from twenty-five to forty, contemplating end of life decisions hasn’t seemed relevant. That is, until now.
Born between 1981 to 1996, millennials have long been saddled with negative stereotypes. Labelled entitled and overly-sensitive, they’ve had to contend with unfair assumptions that they continue to defy.
Since 2000, their namesake year and the year the dot-com bubble burst, millennials have suffered financial insecurity. Ten years later, American millennials witnessed the Great Recession and its aftermath. Since then, they had to earn more to receive less. They may not have faced a plague before, but they’ve certainly experienced economic blight.
Millennials are the largest generation of Americans today. With huge student debt and increased cost of living, they’ve typically put off having children and getting married. Hence, they’ve also put off estate planning.
Michaela Vincze, a public health expert from nonprofit Transamerica Institute, tells the host of Clearpath, Al Waller, ‘Part of the reason for doing things later in life might be the economic downturns… Another factor is the student debt that we carry and how much that eats into our budgets.’
Burdened with the mistakes of their parents, millennials have put off planning for the future.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Millennials
In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Catherin Collinson, who leads the nonprofit Transamerica Institute, released a report about its impact on millennials. She told the host of Clearpath, Al Waller, ‘Almost 6 in 10 Millennials (58 per cent) said their finances were negatively impacted during the pandemic at that time. And seven in 10 had made one or more adjustments to their financial situation, such as reducing everyday expenses, dipping into savings, accumulating credit card debt, and some even moved back in with family or friends to help save money.’
Covid forced millennials to examine their own finances and those of their vulnerable parents. Many, worried that their parents may succumb to the virus, encouraged them to get their affairs in order. Naturally, this prompted them to follow suit.
According to Caring.com, eighteen to 34-year-olds were the age group most motivated by the pandemic to draft a will. Twenty-seven per cent of adults in that age range now have wills compared to 18 per cent in 2019. That’s a ten per cent uptake since Covid hit.
Millennials are also saving more. After witnessing so much financial upheaval, they are even more likely than baby boomers, the generation nearing retirement, to plan for their futures.
Collinson says that her research showed a definite trend toward millennial financial planning. ‘Millennials are a truly remarkable generation… with the immediacy of everything they’re going through, it is astonishing that so many Millennials are continuing to focus on the future. More than eight in ten (82 percent) say they are currently saving for retirement, which is just extraordinary… the Millennial generation, I’ve come to think of as the retirement generation.’
The Great Pandemic Pivot
More than any other time in recent history, people have been forced to ask, what will happen if I die? It seems millennials have answered this question with clarity and decisiveness.
With the worst of the pandemic over, many are reckoning with what remains. Millennials have taken the opportunity to plan their finances, their estates and their future. Perhaps it’s time we dropped the stereotypes and took our cues from the generation leading the way.
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