Are the over 55s thinking differently about their legacy after COVID-19?

A YouGov survey in 2019 revealed that 44% of over-50s change their Will several times due to either specific life events or sudden changes in life circumstances.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals and families in many ways, including changes to health and income, which, in turn, has meant that many over 55s who already have a Will may now be considering making changes. At Adroit Legal Services, we are seeing that people are thinking differently regarding what they leave and who they leave it to, and some are now incorporating a living Will element to their legacy, where before the pandemic, this was not a consideration.

What is a Living Will and why are people now considering one?

The COVID-19 pandemic has left people contemplating what might happen to them should they fall ill. Understandably, many people are fearful of ventilators, which can represent a lack of personal control. For some people, ventilators illustrate one’s helplessness and indicate that end-of-life is looming.

A Living Will outlines what you wish to happen in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions about your care and assets due to ill health or medical intervention. If you do not currently have a Living Will in place, it will be more difficult for doctors, other healthcare staff, family members and loved ones to make decisions about your care.

This new awareness has meant that there has been increased numbers of people making changes to their Will by including a Living Will. At Adroit, we have also seen an increase in people creating a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare, to ensure that their wishes, should they become incapacitated, are looked after and adhered to by someone they trust, should the worst happen.

Leaving a donation to charity

Gifts in Wills make up a significant amount of a charities’ voluntary income and leaving a gift to a charity has become more important than ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. According to The Independent*, over £35m was written into Wills as charitable donations in April 2020, up from £4m per month in 2019.

We have all seen how important charitable services are during a time of crisis and, as COVID-19 has hit charities fundraising activities hard, more people are now considering leaving a donation to a charity in their Will.

A residuary gift is a percentage of your estate once any specified gifts have been made to friends and family. People can choose to leave this type of gift in their Will because its value will be dependent on the value of the estate at any given time rather than a set amount. In addition, a residuary gift provides peace of mind that loved ones are well looked after first and foremost, but that a chosen charity is also a beneficiary.

A pecuniary gift is a specific amount of money, that you may choose to leave to charity, or you can leave a specific gift, which is a gift of a specified item, such as a personal possession, land, buildings or stocks and shares.

A digital legacy

Over 95% of us use the internet regularly** and, with nearly 100 online accounts linked to each individual’s name, it can be hard for loved ones to close down your online life once you’re gone.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that even more of us are living our lives online. From online shopping through to social media, we all interact in the virtual space, but this also means that many more over 55s are now considering their digital legacy and are realising the importance of making changes to their Will to include a digital legacy for their loved ones.

What should you include in your digital legacy?

Making a Will ticks the box when it comes to saying how you want your property, possessions and money shared out, but it’s important to think about your ‘digital assets’ too.

Your digital assets include everything from your social media accounts, through to subscription services, streaming services, and online shopping accounts. It is the access and awareness of these accounts that should be prepared in a separate document but kept with the main Will.

Typically known as a digital or social media Will, or ‘letter of wishes’, this should include details of all your online accounts, and wishes; for example, whether you want your Facebook site memorialised, or closed.

Responding to change

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us all, and we are now planning for our future in different ways, with changes made to our retirement, to our end-of-life plans and to our Will. For many of us the pandemic has changed the way we view our own legacy, and it is making us consider elements we may never have thought of before 2020.

If you are considering making changes to your Will you can visit https://adroitlaw.co.uk/ for more information or call 0333 355 2964 to speak to an advisor.

Sources:

*https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-will-legacy-money-charity-donation-macmillan-a9630246.html

** https://www.statista.com/topics/3246/internet-usage-in-the-uk/#dossierSummary

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