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Have You Spoken with Your Younger Clients About Creating a Will?

Industry Trends and Research

The good news, according to the results of a new survey, is that Millennial parents are open to creating a will; the bad news is that most don’t have one and don’t know where to start. 

The survey of 500 Millennial parents by the Nationwide Retirement Institute finds that 71% of Millennial parents currently do not have a will. Of those that do have a will, the top triggers for preparing one include adding children (40%), the COVID-19 pandemic (39%) and getting married (38%). 

Millennial moms are more likely to cite having children (47% vs. 33%) as their main reason for creating a will, while Millennial dads are more likely to point to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated death rates (51% vs. 26%) as their biggest trigger. “The pandemic is causing many Millennial parents to feel a sense of urgency to prioritize their health and financial plans—including making sure their family is protected,” explains Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide’s life insurance business. 

Will-ful Barriers 

So why do so many Millennial parents not have a will? The biggest barriers to creating one are uncertainty about how to create one and misconceptions about why they are needed, according to the results. Among those who do not have a will, 30% of Millennial parents agree they do not know enough about wills, don’t know where to go to start one (29%) and feel they are too healthy (26%) or too young (21%) to need one.

Millennial moms are more likely than Millennial dads to both have a will (35% vs. 24%) and to answer questions correctly related to coverage. Not surprisingly, Millennial dads are more likely than their wives to feel they are too young (27% vs. 10%) and too healthy (33% vs. 15%) to create a will. “A third of Millennial parents believe a will is only for people who have children and 61% believe that an attorney is required to prepare a will,” emphasizes Snyder. “The reality is a will is important for all adults—no matter your age, health or if you have children—and you do not need an attorney to prepare one.”  


Nationwide also found that Millennial parents are open to creating a will with the right resources. More than four in five say they would create a will if they could do it online easily (84%) and they would use a free tool to help create a will if it was made available to them (82%). “Our survey reveals 17% of Millennial parents think that it takes a week or more to prepare a will. In reality, creating a will is quick and easy,” adds Snyder. To help assist, Nationwide has partnered with FreeWill to offer a free online tool for creating a will that is open to the public and can be completed in about 20 minutes. 

Edelman Data and Intelligence (DxI) conducted the online survey of 500 Millennial parents ages 26 to 40 who have one or more children and an annual household income of $75,000 or more. Fieldwork for the survey was completed between Dec. 11-15, 2020.