Farewill: Year in wills report

Farewill have recently published their Year in Wills Report 2023 which reveals the patterns they have seen throughout the year, what they suggest about how families are coping with the cost of living crisis, and how gifts in wills are changing.

Despite an increase in the cost of living, gift giving was as high in 2023 as previous years, with over one in four will writers leaving a gift to charity in their will. Farewill saw an average £1.01m left to each of their charity partners in 2023, up 20% from £0.84m in 2022.

The youngest left the most gifts to the causes they care about with 31% of Gen Z including a gift to charity in their wills. This could be due to the middle age ranges being more likely to have young dependents who would be expected to receive the majority of the estate, whereas Baby Boomers and Gen Z are able to be more flexible with their estate.

What’s more, the inclusion of stocks and shares in wills dropped by 14% since 2022. They have stated that this could be due to families selling assets to pay for more immediate needs during the cost of living crisis.

The Post War generation were less likely to own bricks and mortar, leaving a property only 37% of the time, compared to 48% for those younger generations. However they were most likely to own their property outright. 90% of the Post War generation own their property outright compared to 69% for Baby Boomers, 25% for Gen X and 13% for Millennials.

45% of Millennials left a property in 2023, compared to the Baby Boomers’ 49%. However, only 13% of those Millennials owned that property outright. This suggests that Millennial property owners are still repaying mortgages, while 69% of Baby Boomers have paid off their homes in full.

Gen Z owned property relatively rarely, including it in only 26% of wills. But those who did own property were twice as likely to own it outright as their Millennial property-owning counterparts.

Also revealed in the report, over 37% left a plan for a pet in their wills, more than 7% increase from last year. It’s been a few years since pet ownership saw a spike during lockdowns, but many may have only recently got around to updating their wills – suggesting we may see this number keep increasing over time.

The most treasured possessions left to family and friends in wills written in 2023 were jewellery. The older generations leave jewellery with specific instructions in nearly a third of wills. However, Gen Z left jewellery in only a fifth of wills, and were instead three times more likely to leave clothes, shoes and other miscellaneous items than Baby Boomers or the Post War generation.

The report stated that this might represent older generations having more time to acquire jewellery, either through marriage, inheritance, or just buying their own. Or it could show differences in the things each generation values.

Mentions of “no fuss” and similar phrases are becoming increasingly popular in funeral wishes over time, up 4% since 2022 and up 22% from 2019. This mirrors the big shift in the type of funeral people choose, with direct cremation (a cremation without a service) surging from 3% of all funerals to 20% over the same period. While people are rejecting traditional funerals in favour of more affordable alternatives, they’re still leaving wishes for ways they like to be remembered, from playlists to party outfits. Commenting on the report, Dan Garret CEO at Farewill, said:

“This year it was great to see that despite the cost of living crisis, people are still finding ways to support charities and causes they care about. The mean amount left to each of our charity partners topped £1m for the first time, up 20% from last year. But we’ve also seen a material change in the makeup of the assets left behind. The inclusion of stocks and shares dropped by 14% since 2022, and there’s an indication that older generations have less property to give.

As you might expect, direct cremations rose in popularity in 2023, being a simpler and more affordable option for many. This change in attitudes was reflected in funeral wishes: phrases like ‘no fuss’ were up 22% from 2019. It’s not all about saving money though. We’re always thrilled when our customers share the ways they’d like to be remembered – from playlists to party hats, those celebrations of life continue to shine through.”

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