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The COVID-19 Wake-Up Call: Survey finds 72% of American Millennials with Wills Created or Updated Them in the Past Year

Joint study with Willful & 1Password: End-of-life decisions are tough to face— 68% of Millennials don’t have a will; 38% have a clear view of their digital accounts.

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COVID-19 triggered many American Millennials to finally begin estate planning, according to new research, which found more than two-thirds (72%) of those respondents with wills created or updated them in the past year. Moreover, one in three (34%) Millennials broached the subject of a digital handover with their parents in the past year. The Great Wake-up Call report from 1Password, a leader in human-centric security and privacy, and its partners, Trust & Will and Willful, the leading digital estate planning platforms in the U.S. and Canada respectively, explores the attitudes of 1,000 American Millennials, ages 25-40, toward end-of-life decisions, and storing and transferring digital assets before and after death. 

“The pandemic has encouraged many of us to think more deeply about our mortality, but there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure a smooth handover of our estate--especially for newer digital platforms where we spend more and more of our time,” said Jeff Shiner, CEO of 1Password. “Millennials especially are facing the brunt of these shifting pressures, as they’re balancing responsibilities for their own growing families while also caring for aging parents. Transition plans have long been a taboo topic, but it’s time to destigmatize these discussions and ensure our digital lives are in order so the responsibility doesn’t fall on others.” 

A Slow Start to Estate Planning

The majority (68%) of Millennials still don’t have a will, and just 38% of Millennials have provided clear guidance on how they’d like their digital accounts managed after they die. In fact, according to the report, descendants of those Millennials surveyed would lose access to an estimated average of $22,500 due to mismanaged wills. 

  • Doomscrolling beyond the grave: More than half (57%) of American Millennials believe giving their executor access to their social media accounts is more important than access to their email, subscriptions, or shopping accounts (Amazon, Target, etc.). However, sharing credentials to banking/financial accounts still tops the list of priorities (67%). 

  • End-of-life influencer: Celebrity deaths have a surprising impact on end-of-life planning. Behind COVID-19 (55%) and having a child (36%), the death of a celebrity or public figure was the third biggest trigger to writing a will (22%), even surpassing buying a house (17%). 

The End-of-Life Elephant in the Room

The survey found that, despite recent progress, more than half (52%) of respondents admitted to never talking to their parents about a digital handover--or can’t remember the conversation. 

  • It’s not easy being in charge: Six in 10 (63%) of respondents who have executed wills said it was harder than expected to access accounts of the deceased.  

  • Millennials aren’t set up for success: More than half (51%) will be responsible for executing their parent’s wills, but only 36% of respondents know or have access to their parents’ passwords for their online accounts. 

Millennial State of the Password

Most Millennials keep their passwords to themselves in order to protect finances and their digital lives, following best practices. The irony is sharing passwords is increasingly critical to granting loved ones access to your digital legacy when you die.

  • Password preferences: When asked how they’ve shared passwords, 41% said via a written list, followed by 39% verbally and 25% digitally via email, cloud Google Docs, PDF, or a similar platform.

  • What tech? The old-fashioned ways of securing important documents still reigns; 81% of Millennials say they keep important paperwork, like their birth certificate, in a physical location such as a filing cabinet, safe or safe deposit box.

  • Never forget: More than half (51%) of respondents say that they currently store their passwords by memory, while 25% store their passwords on a piece of paper. Twenty percent of respondents use a password manager.

"It’s not surprising that the pandemic inspired Millennials to create or update an estate plan. However, more shockingly, the vast majority of Americans still don't have a will or have access to their loved ones' accounts," said Cody Barbo, Founder and CEO of Trust & Will. "As more Millennials enter the ‘Sandwich Generation’, acting as caregivers for both children and parents or grandparents, it is more important than ever to have open and honest discussions about end-of-life preferences and digital handovers. Creating an estate plan ensures that your family or friends are authorized to act on your behalf and in your best wishes." 

To download the full report, Click here

Survey Methodology 

This online survey was prepared by 72Point and distributed among 1,000 American Millennials (ages 25-40). Data was collected from September 16-17, 2021.

About 1Password

1Password, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, provides human-centered security for everyone, everywhere. The company’s password management and credentials security platform is trusted by more than 100,000 business customers including IBM, Slack, Shopify, Under Armour, and many more. 1Password also protects the most sensitive information of millions of individuals and families across the globe and is committed to helping consumers and businesses get more done in less time and with security and privacy as a given. 

About Trust & Will 

Trust & Will, headquartered in San Diego, California, is a modern approach to digital estate planning, offering legally valid documents designed and approved by estate planning attorneys to adhere to individual state guidelines. Our mission is to provide families with a better way to plan for the future. Since 2017, more than 250,000 Trust & Will members have created an online estate plan to set up their family legacy. We make estate planning simple, affordable, and accessible by providing a secure way to set up a plan online in minutes, using bank-level encryption that protects customer data and complies with the highest security standards, including SOC2. Trust & Will is the official estate planning benefit provider for AARP members and is a proud partner of several leading financial institutions, including Northwestern Mutual and Haven Life. 

About Willful 

Headquartered in Toronto, Willful is on a mission to change the way Canadians prepare for and deal with death. Their first product is an online platform that makes it affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create a legal will online. The platform provides simplified estate planning services, enabling consumers to create a will and/or power of attorney by following a clear step-by-step process. Willful’s platform was developed in collaboration with leading estate lawyers, and has pricing plans starting at $99. Willful is based in Toronto, and it is currently available to residents of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Manitoba.

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