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Is Gen Z Driving Changes in the Estate Planning Industry?

Younger generations are estate planning like never before: Gen Z drives industry changes by embracing technology and harnessing an entrepreneurial spirit.

In a recent study, Trust & Will found that an unprecedented number of millennials created a Will or Trust in 2020. This is the first time in history that younger generations are more active in the estate planning market place than their elders. 

We’re also discovering that millennials aren’t the only emergent demographic. Someone even younger is beginning to drive changes in the industry: Generation Z. 

From floating pink coffins to Tik Tokers finding creative ways to talk about death despite censorship, we couldn't help but notice that Zoomers are displaying a fascination with death on social media. Could this have anything to do with why more and more youngsters are creating their estate plans? Keep reading to find out why we think Gen Zers are driving changes in the estate planning marketplace. 

What You Need To Know about Generation Z

Generation Z describes anyone who was born between 1996 and 2010. You can also call them Gen Z, iGen, Centennials, or Zoomers. As of 2021, Gen Zers are between the ages of 6 to 24, with the eldest of them already graduating from college, entering the workforce and starting families. 

According to Business Insider, our youngest generation makes up 27% of the U.S. population (the largest ever) and is the most ethnically diverse. They grew up with the internet, technology, and social media. 

Gen Z Character Traits

Understanding the Gen Z psyche helps to explain why they are more inclined to discuss and even embrace death, relative to prior generations. The Center for General Kinetics conducted a study that reveals several common Gen Z characteristics. 

Technology-centered. Not only are Zoomers digital natives, many of them learned how to use their iPhones before they even began to form full sentences. Over half turn to platforms such as YouTube and TikTok to conduct research. It’s without question that Gen Zers turn to the internet to self-educate.

Pragmatic. Gen Zers are notoriously pragmatic compared to prior generations. 12 percent are already saving for retirement, and 29 percent think that they should only take out loans or use credit cards for sparing reasons. This is likely because they’ve only known economic and political turbulence their whole lives. Not only did many of them see their parents’ net worth plummet during the Great Recession, they also watched their older siblings struggle with crushing student debt. 

Self-starters. With the internet at their hands, Zoomers take the cake as the most entrepreneurial generation yet. According to the study, the vast majority of Gen Zers want to own their own business one day. We’ve already seen youngsters make millions via platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Etsy.

Humanitarian: Although the “woke” culture is sometimes associated with a negative connotation, it is undeniable that Gen Zers are compassionate. Need an example? Greta Thunberg is an environmental activist from Sweden who was named TIME’s Person of the Year 2019, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, and is a published author. Greta is only 18 years old. 76 percent stated that they were worried about how the human race is negatively impacting our planet. 36 percent volunteer with local nonprofits.

Gen Z: Death Positivity drives Estate Planning 

Maranasati. This is a Buddhist phrase that describes death awareness. The notion behind it is that by being more aware of death and embracing uncertainty, you can live a more peaceful, present life. 

This concept helps explain the phenomenon in which Zoomers are discussing death more openly than any generation that precedes them. Even those who don’t necessarily embrace death seem to at least be neutral about it. In an op-ed piece, Vice Media writer and Zoomer Tom George discussed why younger generations are “so obsessed with death.” In his musings, George points out that Gen Zers are “incredibly aware of the current state of the Earth and the precarious future” that they face.

Global warming, increased mass shootings, extremist politics, and now COVID-19, are all realities that give many individuals a heightened sense of mortality. According to a recent study by end-of-life platform Aura, attitudes about death are changing directly because of COVID-19. Further, their data revealed that Gen Z is driving these shifting attitudes. Zoomer respondents were four times more likely than Baby Boomers to plan ahead and make a bucket list. Instead of caving into fear, they are showing a preference for empowerment, which calls for action. 

Vox is calling today’s youth the “death positive” generation. Not only are they discussing and facing their own deaths, they are planning their own funerals. The internet is presumably allowing younger consumers to make more informed choices, and social media provides them with a space to discuss their findings and opinions. Now, young entrepreneurs are establishing countless end-of-life planning websites, apps, and tools so that users can curate their own afterlives. Trust & Will, an online estate planning service, is no exception.

Why Gen Zers are Taking their Estate Planning Online

Google users searched the term “online will” in 2020 more than any other time since 2011. Data shows that the number of young adults with a Will increased by an astounding 63 percent between 2020 and 2021. By comparing these two sets of data, it can be deduced that young adults are the driving force behind the drastic spike in Will creation this year. Not only that, they are showing a preference for creating their Wills online.

Here, we need to ask: why?

The psyche of Gen Z helps explain this recent trend, of which there are several factors:

  • Neutral or positive attitudes towards death

  • Financial pragmatism

  • Empowerment during turbulence

  • Aversion to talking to strangers and strong preference for the internet

Discussed earlier, Zoomers appear to be embracing a positive (or at least neutral) attitude about death. Trends on social media show that they are ready and willing to talk about death and even find humor in it. TikTokers developed the phrase “unalive” to circumvent censorship algorithms so that they could continue talking about death and suicide.

Most people who state that the reason they haven’t planned their estate is merely because they haven’t gotten around to it. Death aversion is a major factor in estate planning procrastination. It’s only natural to drag one’s feet when it comes to thinking about our eventual demise. With the discussion of death and end-of-life planning out in the open, it’s possible that Gen Zers don’t feel as much of an aversion when it comes to establishing an estate plan.

Second, Gen Zers appear to have a pragmatic approach when it comes to finances, and ultimately planning their future legacies. Entrepreneurship, careful spending, saving up early for retirement, and avoiding debt are common characteristics. Protecting their wealth and legacies by establishing an estate plan is a piece that fits perfectly into the puzzle.

Next, Gen Zers have known turbulence for the majority of their lives. Between pandemics, recessions, and mass shootings, all they’ve known is that nothing is certain, and that life is fragile. Because this group is highly self-informed through the internet, they’re quick to discover ways to empower themselves. They’ve likely discovered that creating a Will or Trust is a great way to obtain better peace of mind for the future. 

Last but not least, Zoomers show a strong preference for conducting their affairs on the internet. Many of them likely knew how to search a YouTube video before they could have a full conversation. Before the age of the internet, people had to hire financial planners, estate planning attorneys, and funeral directors to prepare for their end-of-life stages. However, most people have an aversion to talk to strangers about important, personal matters. Thanks to technology, we can take advantage of online services that allow us to receive expert-level help without having to hire and speak with a specialist in-person. Because they are so native to the internet, Zoomers are likely quick to take advantage of online will creation services while other generations may be more hesitant.

Create a Will Online with Trust & Will

It wouldn’t be entirely accurate if we said that millennials were driving changes in the estate planning industry. The most recent data shows that Gen Z is silently but quickly emergent in the estate planning landscape.

Their pragmatism, shitting attitudes towards death, and love of the internet are all unique factors that are encouraging them to establish Estate Plans early on in life. What we can learn from our youngest counterparts is that online Will creation is valid, effective, and easy. There is no longer any reason to drag your feet on this important activity that helps protect you, your family and legacy. 

Ready to take the leap and create your Will (or Trust) online? We’ve got your back! At Trust & Will, we offer online Will creation services that are simple, easy, and affordable. Better yet, you can get it all done without ever having to leave your house. We guide users through simple sets of questions to help you establish your estate plan, meaning that you don’t have to talk to a human being if you prefer not to. However, we have our team of experts available should you need help at any step of the way.