Our recent joint study with HelloPrenup found that people are thinking about (and actively planning for) their future earlier. While the usual suspects – retirement, death in the family, and other life events generally experienced later in life – were listed as the most common reasons to start an estate plan, the latest research shows: younger people are starting to think long-term.
Highlights from our findings include:
90% of partners want their inheritance to remain separate property even after marriage
70% of partners want to keep their separate and/or premarital property separate while they are married
Single users are almost twice as likely to complete an estate plan in just a few days, vs. married counterparts
We collected and analyzed data from more than 5,000 respondents. The results overwhelmingly show that millennials are more than willing to discuss and plan for topics that were once considered taboo – like death, divorce, and joint finances.
You might even say: Millennials are talking about marriage and divorce at the same time.
It’s a fascinating trend we’ve been watching grow for several years. Why is this happening? What’s changed?
Together with HelloPrenup, we compiled a comprehensive report looking at what (and how) millennials have come to view the importance of finances and their future – translation, they’re #Adulting, and they know it.
Our research found that young people today are more excited about taking their futures into their own hands. They want to be able to count on financial security, no matter what life throws at them.
Despite the increasing allure independence seems to offer many young people today, marriage is still viewed as an important milestone for many millennials. But it’s also becoming more common to talk about intense and critical matters – like estate planning and prenuptial agreements (aka, a prenup) – before tying the knot. This is because the majority of millennials understand that if something were to happen to either partner, there could be severe financial implications down the line.
Divorce is another hot conversation topic among millennials today – for both those considering marriage and couples already married. The average cost of a divorce today can range from $15,000-$30,000, depending on where you live and how complex your situation may be. The price tag alone is enough for even young couples to agree it’s wise to discuss how they’d handle it if things don’t work out. Bottom line: Planning for the future isn’t just something older generations do anymore. It’s become essential to savvy millennial couples’ pre-marriage and marriage checklist.
Millennials’ thoughts on estate planning & prenuptial agreements
Millennials who take estate planning seriously often want to protect their individual property in case of death or divorce. In fact, according to recent surveys, approximately 90% of engaged couples want their inheritance to remain separate property even after marriage.
Our research shows this is especially true for those with inheritances ranging from $250,000 to $350,000. Many openly admit they don’t want their inheritance to go directly to their spouse upon death. Instead, they’d rather place restrictions in their estate plan on how their spouse may use the money.
Similarly, a whopping 70% of engaged couples want to keep their premarital or separate property separate, even while married.
However, they don’t want everything to be separate. In terms of sharing assets, according to our data, up to 80% of couples today opt for joint bank accounts during marriage.
However, regarding sunset clauses (provisions that terminate an agreement at a certain wedding anniversary or specified date), only about 10% choose this option.
While it’s great that younger generations are increasingly aware of the importance of estate planning and its potential benefits, discussing these plans with your spouse or fiancé thoroughly is critical.
Top reasons millennials start an estate plan
Whether they’re getting married, starting a business, or traveling abroad, young adults today do recognize that having an estate plan in place is essential for protecting assets and ensuring their wishes are carried out after death.
People get serious about estate planning for a variety of reasons – here are some of the top motivations for millennials to start an estate plan:
Marital status change
In our recent survey, 5.6% of overall respondents (regardless of age) chose “Marital Status Change” as a reason for starting an estate plan.
Looking at millennials specifically:
Respondents aged 25-34: 11.7% cited a change in marital status as why they prioritized creating an estate plan (3rd most common answer)
Respondents aged 35-44: 5.3% cited a change in marital status as why they prioritized creating an estate plan (7th most common answer)
Millennials love to travel, but only 4% of total survey respondents cited travel as the reason they created an estate plan. When you’re away from home for extended periods or traveling internationally, having your affairs in order — specifically a medical power of attorney and/or advance healthcare directive — is crucial.
Looking at millennials specifically:
Respondents aged 25-34: 5% cited travel as why they prioritized creating an estate plan (7th most common answer)
Respondents aged 35-44: 4.9% cited travel as why they prioritized creating an estate plan (8th most common answer)
Owning your own business is exciting, but it also requires careful consideration about protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your investments.
An estate plan can help entrepreneurs ensure their hard work isn’t lost due to unforeseen circumstances like illness, divorce, or death. You can use an estate plan to provide clear instructions about what should happen with your business assets if you pass away or become incapacitated.
Inheriting money or property often comes with complications, depending on who it was left by and how much is involved.
Estate plans help heirs avoid unnecessary stress by ensuring everything runs smoothly when transferring wealth between generations, sometimes without even incurring extra costs. Additionally, an effective plan can guide how disputes should be handled, so everyone knows their rights.
How long do most people think about their estate plan?
When it comes to estate planning, the time it typically takes people to consider their options can vary greatly.
Recent surveys show that single people between the ages of 25 and 34 tend to move faster than married ones. Single users are 2.3 times as likely to make decisions in just a few days, compared to their married counterparts, who are 68% more likely to take over a year before deciding on an estate plan.
The same trend holds for millennials aged 35-44, but there is one key difference: Married users in this age range are 34% more likely than singles to take two-to-five years to make an estate plan decision. Unmarried people in this group also moved slightly faster than married couples, but with less variance from single-user responses – likely because some had already experienced divorce or the death of a spouse by then.
Ready to take the next steps? Topics to discuss with your spouse or fiancé
When it comes to marriage, there are a lot of discussion topics to cover before tying the knot.
Estate planning and prenuptial agreements are critical conversations that, unfortunately, many couples overlook when they’re in the midst of wedding planning or the early years of marriage.
Key topics to discuss include:
Wills & Trusts
Both spouses absolutely must have a Will to ensure their wishes can be fulfilled after death. A Trust might also be beneficial, especially in complex situations, like if either spouse has children from a previous relationship or owns property jointly with someone else.
Make sure each partner knows who the other has designated as beneficiaries on any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, etc. Review and update designations regularly as needed.
Health care decisions
Talk about what kind of medical care you’d want if you couldn’t make decisions due to an illness or injury. This includes designating a healthcare proxy (also known as a healthcare power of attorney) who can make decisions on your behalf if needed.
Financial Power of Attorney
Designate someone who’ll manage your finances and pay bills if you’re ever incapacitated or away from home for extended periods (such as during military service).
Discussing end-of-life arrangements, like funeral plans, can help alleviate stress later down the road when emotions may run high during grief and loss.
Before saying "I do," it is essential for couples to have a frank discussion about prenuptial agreements. This legal document outlines each partner's financial expectations and assets, providing security and peace of mind in the event of a separation or divorce. Having this conversation before the wedding can help ensure a clear understanding of each person's financial situation, avoiding any misunderstandings or surprises down the road. So, take the time to consider a prenuptial agreement and safeguard your future together.
Tax planning strategies should be discussed between couples. Questions to consider could include things like:
How do you plan on filing taxes each year (separately or jointly)?
Are any deductions available that could save you money?
What strategies should be used for long-term tax savings?
Discussing your future with your spouse or fiancé is integral. By understanding each other’s goals and plans, you can create a strong foundation for an effective estate plan that meets your needs.
Methodology: Trust & Will and HelloPrenup analyzed survey and proprietary database data from nearly 5,000 people ages 18 and older who completed their estate plans and/or prenuptial agreements from 2020 to 2022.
HelloPrenup is an online prenup platform that helps couples create a legally binding prenuptial agreement in hours. The platform was designed to make it easier for couples to plan their financial future together from the comfort of their own home, while also easing anxieties by giving them the control over the prenup negotiation and creation process.
About Trust & Will
Trust & Will is an online estate planning and settlement platform that helps individuals and couples create legally binding wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other vital documents as part of a comprehensive estate plan.