Millennials, the generation born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, are known for their unique approach to lifestyles and milestones. A millennial is more likely to focus on education and their career, and wait on things like marriage and starting a family. They are tech-savvy, budget-conscious, and place importance on volunteer work and social justice causes. How might these perspectives and preferences shape millennials’ decisions, when it comes to estate planning?

The Millennials and Estate Planning in an Unprecedented Year study – a first of its kind — examines whether the health crisis and social unrest of 2020 influenced younger consumers (millennials) to consider estate and end-of-life planning. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 18,000 millennials, aged 25 to 40, who reported creating an estate plan in 2020. The study includes participants from all 50 US states, with varying socio-economic backgrounds. Here is a closer look at what researchers found.

Most Common Estate Planning Documents

For those survey participants who completed their estate planning in 2020, the most popular documents were:

  • Will (78%)
  • Health Care Documents, Power of Attorney (38%)
  • Trust (16%)
  • Appointment of Guardianship (6%)

These numbers reflect a positive trend among millennials, as approximately one-half of all adult Americans do not have any estate plans in place. In order to protect yourself and your family, it’s a good idea to have a will, power of attorney, and an advanced directive for healthcare in place.

Reasons for Drafting Their Estate Documents

When the millennials were asked why they wanted to create an estate plan, about 38% said that they wanted to protect and provide for their children. (About 75% of participants were parents). The second most common response was “because of the pandemic,” with 17% of participants saying that the health crisis motivated them to create an estate plan. Another popular reason was to make sure their pets would be taken care of, in case of an emergency. Of those pet owners who created an estate plan in 2020, 78% of them designated a guardian for their pets. Other common reasons include: buying a home, getting married, getting divorced, or general life planning.

Millennials and Charitable Planning

The study also indicated that charitable planning is important to millennials, with 7% of the survey participants choosing to leave a specific dollar amount to their favorite charities and non-profit organizations. The social unrest of 2020 may also have influenced their charitable planning decisions. Of those who gifted a portion of their estate to charity, the most popular recipients include St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Planned Parenthood, the ASPCA, Girl Scouts, and the American Cancer Society. Millennials also left money to The Black Lives Matter Foundation.

Millennials and End-of-Life Planning

Of the millennials who created an estate plan in 2020, a large portion of those individuals also included end-of-life plans in their estate documents. Approximately 38% of the respondents completed their health care documents, such as an advance healthcare directive, a HIPAA form, or a power of attorney. Concerning their medical wishes, 50% said they only wanted extreme medical care if the benefits outweigh the burdens – which places importance on their quality of life.

Just over one-third (35%) said that they preferred a celebration of life ceremony over a traditional funeral. Some even included specific song requests by artists like Neil Young, Jack Johnson, Brad Paisley, and John Lennon. A quarter of the millennials specified that they wanted to donate their organs, if possible. About 47% of respondents chose cremation; 25% wanted a traditional burial.

Have Questions About Estate Planning? Contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates

Whether you create an estate plan at a younger age or later in life, estate planning is a long-term relationship. Once you have a plan in place that protects yourself, your loved ones, and your assets, you want to revisit it to make sure it reflects your current goals and family status. If you have questions about creating an estate plan or the estate planning process, please reach out. Our team of estate planning attorneys would be happy to help. You can contact Brian M. Douglas & Associates at (770) 933-9009 or via our website.