5 minute read

Generation C: The Emerging Demographic in Estate Planning

What does the rise of Generation C mean for estate planning? Trust & Will explores the long-term impact of the COVID generation & caregiving for families.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

Sociologists, economists, and researchers alike are busy examining the long-term impacts of COVID-19. No one seems quite sure what they will be, although there are some predictions. It is especially tricky when none of us are certain when we are still in the teasing tail of a pandemic that is not quite over yet. 

While many of us hold on to the hope and faith of returning to a pre-pandemic world, for some, the pandemic world is all they know. Generation C is the emerging generation that is characterized by the pandemic. Who is Generation C, and what are their characteristics? What will be the long-term impacts of this COVID generation and their families? Keep reading as we explore what a post-pandemic world may look like for our youngest generation.

What Does “Generation C” Mean? 

The global pandemic is a phenomenon that has greatly impacted all generations that currently live. Is COVID-19 a mere blip in our historical timeline, or is it a major marker that will be reported in every history book? Are there social phenomena that are markedly characterized by pre and post-pandemic eras? The long-term impacts are yet to unfold.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, sociologists and economists are particularly fascinated by an emerging demographic: Generation C. 

Generation C is “Generation COVID,” the generation that follows in the footsteps of Generation Z. These are children that were born after 2012, many of whom were born or were toddlers during the pandemic. We’ve heard many nicknames for these children, such as “Coronials”, “Quarantines”, and “Baby Zoomers”. Now, people are beginning to name them as an entirely new generation, Generation C.

What is clear is that this newest generation is defined by the Coronavirus. They came into a world of masking, quarantining, social distancing, and communicating with the outside world strictly using technology. They will not know a world without technology, remote education, or fiscal stimulus from the government. This is their reality, and it will be fascinating to witness what world they will come to know. Ironically, many of these children won’t remember the pandemic.

Note that the term Generation C is also often used to describe Generation Caregiver, or the Sandwich Generation. This is the generation of Americans that is providing care to others, such as their children, the elderly, or dependents with disabilities. Click here for an in-depth look at Sandwich Generation Caregiver.

Why Is It Called  “Generation C”? 

Researchers and scholars have come up with the term “Generation C.” It primarily describes the emerging generation that is behind Generation Z. In this case, the “C” stands for “COVID.” The global pandemic is said to be a defining characteristic of this generation. 

The term “Generation C” also describes an entirely different demographic. In this case, the “C” stands for “Caregiver.” This generation includes any American that provides care to others. Many belong to the Sandwich Generation, or the generation of Americans that are providing care to more than one other generation at the same time, such as a child and an aging parent. The economic stressors and effects of COVID-19 also characterize this generation.

Who is In Gen C? 

Defining a new generation is difficult, especially as history continues to unfold. Generations are often named later in time, after historians have a holistic and overarching view of events that help shape and define a generation. 

In general, sociologists and economists are in agreement that Generation C follows in the footsteps of Generation Z, who were born between 1997 and 2012. They are currently aged between 10 and 25. Generation C (or Generation COVID) likely includes any child born after 2012.

Here is a breakdown of how generations have been defined over the last 100 years:

  • The Silent Generation: Born in years 1925 - 1945 

  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 - 1964

  • Generation X: Born 1965 - 1980

  • Millennials: Born 1981 - 1996

  • Generation Z: 1997 - 2012*

  • Generation C: 2013*

*Dates are not finalized and may change. One expert believes Gen C includes children that were born in 2016 up until the mid-2030s.

What Does the Future Hold for Generation C?

A distinguishing feature regarding Generation C is that they will be the sole generation of young people who currently live through and will have lived through a pandemic in their most formative years. 

This means that their childhood is defined by a world living in a global pandemic. In addition to the pandemic, these children viewed the ongoings of the outside world through social media. They witnessed social issues such as racial tensions, political tensions, and gender parity. Some experts think that Gen C will bring about radical social change and disrupt the status quo.

They were introduced to being schooled online, but had to deal with the constant opening and closings of their schools. The psychological impacts of young people growing up in a world of isolation remains to be seen. 

Students dealt with wearing masks in school, and growing up in a world where social distancing is the norm. They do not know what it is like to receive hugs and high-fives without fear of contagiousness. Other children missed out on events that are usually monumental in most children’s lives, such as graduation ceremonies, prom nights, and field trips. 

Further, they will not know a world with technology.

The future of Generation C is hard to predict. Some sociologists worry about children having high levels of anxiety. According to NextMapping, parents are anecdotally confirming this, reporting that children are dealing with complex feelings such as uncertainty, isolation, sadness, and confusion.

However, parents also report positive influences from the pandemic, such as increased family time, time spent outdoors, increased interest in innovation and technology, and increased empathy and awareness.

It is easy to predict that Gen C will grow up to be empathetic and innovative adults. Growing up in an era in which injustices and inequalities are highlighted, they will likely seek to bring balance. They will also be flexible and adaptive, knowing how to work anywhere and any time without interruption. They will also understand the value of preserving mental health and wellbeing. Lastly, they will live in a world that is highly innovative and technological.  

Estate Planning Tips for Generation C 

Trust & Will conducted a study of 200,000 Millennials and their attitudes on estate planning. Young adults are establishing Estate Plans in record numbers, which can be surprising. Shouldn’t it be the most “serious” and “responsible” generations that have the highest rates of estate planning? On the contrary, the proportion of older American adults with a Will or Trust is relatively low. Millennials are beginning to drive up the statistics. 

This is occurring because Millennials are starting families amidst a global pandemic. They are the parents giving birth to Generation COVID. They know what it means to take care of your children in a world of uncertainty and economic duress. Therefore, they understand the value of planning ahead to protect your assets, your health care, and your family. 

Thus, we have reason to believe that we will continue to see an upward trend of estate planning amongst the younger generations in America. Millennial parents will likely be more comfortable and practiced discussing estate planning and financial health to their young, more so than previous generations. They will model the way such that their own children will have the education and access to kick start their own estate planning when they become old enough. Further, these children will have known a world that was pandemic-driven and unpredictable during their most formative years. They will likely be motivated to be prepared more than any other generation thus far. 

Estate planning becomes possible at the age of 18, so we have nearly a decade to go before Generation C will begin creating their estate plans. However, it is never too early to begin discussing the importance of estate planning. Although it is difficult to predict the future, the technology surrounding estate planning will likely change quickly in the coming decades. We are already seeing the introduction of e-Wills (Wills that are created digitally from end to end) in some states, and as states change their legislations, it will become more widespread. Generation C does not know a world without technology, so not only will they demand the technologization and efficiency of estate planning, it will be expected. 

Update Your Estate Plan Today

Most researchers and scholars agree that Generation C describes our youngest generation of children that follow Generation Z. Generation C is defined by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and experienced a life of quarantine, social distancing, and remote education during their most formative years. Although they are mostly still infants and toddlers at the moment, the socioeconomic and psychological effects of growing up in a pandemic world are yet to be seen. 

Note that the term Generation C does not solely belong to this group. Some scholars also use the term Generation C to describe the group of Americans who provide care to another generation. Generation Caregiver is also characterized by the socioeconomic stressors of the pandemic, and it is especially true for the Sandwich Generation. 

No matter your age or generation, what the pandemic taught all of us is to expect the unexpected, and it is never too early to create a contingency plan. Too many Americans are unaware that an Estate Plan can empower you no matter your age, race, or income level. It is the only surefire way to protect your legacy and ensure that it can be passed on correctly to your loved ones, especially in an emergency situation. Further, an Estate Plan pertains to important aspects other than financial planning, such as future health care planning. Many will attest that they wish they had an Estate Plan in place during the pandemic for its health care documents and planning benefits. 

If you are a parent, it is a great idea to model the way for future generations and create an Estate Plan. By serving as an example and providing transparency by discussing it with your loved ones, you can demystify the Estate Plan.

At Trust & Will, we are passionate about making estate planning possible for any American. Our products are affordable, easy, and accessible. Even better, you can have a basic Estate Plan in place in a matter of minutes. In a post-pandemic world where we’ve all learned the lesson to expect the unexpected, we can all sleep better at night knowing that we’ve taken the extra steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning options today!

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