All About Estates

Estate Planning for Millennials

As a “millennial” (an imprecise demographic term which describes those born between 1980 and somewhere in the late 1990s), I often hear about the ways in which my generation is doing things differently (often worse) than those generations before us: we live on our smartphones[1], we can’t seem to get out of our parents’ houses and in to our own places[2], and we are delaying getting married and having families longer than ever before[3].

Often what brings clients in to see an estate planner are precisely those events which millennials are delaying: the purchase of a home, getting married, a first baby. I regularly am asked by my non-homeowner millennial friends, “Do I really need a Will? All I’ve got is an RRSP and a TFSA, and the stuff in my apartment.” Combined with the fact that many millennials are used to running our lives from the palm of our hands through a series of apps (think Uber, WealthSimple, or Jiffy), you’ve got a perfect storm for a decline in young clients.

All that said, there is still hope – it’s up to estate planners to effectively tailor their message and their marketing and find ways to reach these potential clients. Of course, like any other generational cohort, we are not a monolith, and estate planners shouldn’t make assumptions about any particular client. However, it’s worth considering these general trends in determining how to best reach out to millennials as a whole.

A few suggestions:

  • Reconsider your messaging. When speaking with a millennial about the need for an estate plan, you may wish to focus on the non-financial elements of estate planning – for example, the desire to make things easier for family members by avoiding the lengthy process of appointing an estate trustee in an intestacy, or the ability to make charitable gifts to favourite organizations through a Will.
  • Focus on your tailored product offering. There are lots of online options for Wills, but only an estate practitioner can offer specific, tailored advice for an individual’s unique situation.
  • Have conversations with your baby-boomer clients about the importance of their children having an estate plan.
  • Word-of-mouth is still powerful. Treat millennials well, and we will share our experience (though the sharing might be through Yelp or Google Reviews – after all, we love our smartphones). Similarly, treat us poorly, and we will let the entire internet know about it.

[1] https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2016/millennials-are-top-smartphone-users.html

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/young-people-more-likely-to-live-with-parents-now-than-any-time-in-modern-history/2016/05/24/9ad6f564-2117-11e6-9e7f-57890b612299_story.html?utm_term=.24132bb2636a

[3] https://news.gallup.com/poll/191462/gallup-analysis-millennials-marriage-family.aspx

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About Emily Hubling
Emily Hubling is an associate in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken. Emily has experience in advising estate trustees in administering a range of complex estate matters, including intestacies, cross-border matters, and contested estates. Working closely with clients’ advisors, Emily prepares Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Trusts to assist clients in fulfilling their unique estate-planning objectives.

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