A turbulent time for the entire population – the past 18 months has seen the Covid-19 pandemic accelerate many changes to the way we lead our lives.
Not only has the pandemic caused us to reflect on mortality more than ever before, changes in government legislation and lifestyle trends continue to emerge as a result, and in turn encourage people to consider how to protect their assets, family and pets – should the worst happen.
The wills and probate experts at JMP Solicitors have noted a significant increase in those organising a will during 2021, which has also highlighted a shift in motivations and attitudes – with a survey conducted in July 2021 revealing that almost 1 in 3 people said the pandemic had made them talk more openly about death – with 1 in 2 people stating the pandemic made death feel closer to home. 
Andrea Bingham, head of the wills, trusts and probate department at JMP Solicitors commented:
“In recent months, we have recognised a real shift in motivations and reasoning from those enquiring about our will writing services, and most notably an increased interest from younger people.
“The pandemic has made people realise how unpredictable life can be – and has encouraged families to have more open and difficult conversations.
“Not only this, COVID-19 has had many financial implications, causing families to reassess their position and the importance of protecting their assets. Whilst changes in lifestyle – such as increased pet ownership has caused us to consider who will be there to protect them.
“All of these trends caused by the pandemic are motivating people to write a will even if it’s something they may not have considered previously. We have outlined below three key motivators and changes that have emerged during the year.”
- More young people are writing wills post pandemic, as perceptions shift
Sadly, in England to date, over 125,000 deaths have been recorded within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19. With such a large number of the population falling ill with the disease, and many people losing close family members and friends, the pandemic has caused us to contemplate the reality of mortality.
Naturally, this has encouraged individuals and families to contemplate writing a will which they may not have considered actioning previously – with a real shift moving towards the younger generation.
In a UK wide survey, it was found that 22% of 16-24 year olds strongly agreed that their perspective had changed on will writing since the pandemic whilst, of those who had updated their will, 18% of young people (aged 16-24) said they did so after falling ill from COVID-19.
It was reported that 298% more millennials made their will in 2020 vs. 2019 – and Gen Z saw an even bigger increase of 465%.
- The divorce rate has increased, causing individuals to reassess their financial situation
Following a nationwide lockdown, the family law team at JMP Solicitors has seen a large increase in divorce enquires. In September 2020, Citizens Advice noted a large increase in divorce guidance searches, with a 25% increase in visitors on their divorce webpage compared with the previous year.
It is suggested that lockdown presented a catalyst which further highlighted problems within a marriage – with couples contemplating how their future might look and some realising a new outlook on life.
Divorces will result in separating finances and assets between the individuals – causing them to re-valuate their circumstances and where children are involved, individuals will look to write a will to ensure they are protected, where they may not have felt the need previously due to the level of protection within a marriage.
- An increase in pet ownership during and post lockdown
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ association – a total of 3.2 million households in the UK have added a pet to their household since the beginning of the pandemic.
With a new family member to care for – an emerging trend that is being seen is people leaving assets to their beloved pets in their wills.
In a survey conducted by Legal & General, it was recorded that ‘15% of respondents in the 16-24 age group have used their will to leave their assets to their pets – the highest out of any other age group.’
Andrea Bingham, head of the wills and probate department has a wealth of experience in helping clients prepare for the future by drafting wills and lasting powers of attorney to help manage client affairs and assist with vital healthcare decisions. If you require further information, please call 0800 085 9966 and ask to speak to Andrea or email email@example.com