New study finds young Australians less likely to have a will

Date: Aug 31, 2015

A recent survey published by four universities in Australia on wills and estate planning has found that young people are less likely to have written a will. This is despite Australia overall having one of the highest rates of making wills in the world. 

The "Having the Last Word - Will Making and Contestation in Australia" report reveals that Australia is one of the world's most will conscious societies. Most Australians either have a will (59 per cent) or expect to make one at some point in their lives (22 per cent).

In a press release, Associate Professor Cheryl Tilse from The University of Queensland who led the study said "Australia as a whole certainly has greater rates of will-making than we've seen on studies in the UK and US."

According to the report, 93 per cent of people over the age of 70 have a will regardless of the amount of assets they have. More than half of respondents by age cohort reported having a will only at the ages 40-49, meaning most young people did not have a will.

The research found that the main reason for not having a will was simple procrastination - "I haven't got around to it" was the most common answer.

Making a will was heavily influenced by different stages of a person's life. Getting married, having children, and owning a house were accomplishments that made it more likely a person would take the time to write a will.

Wills were also seen in the survey as solely a means to distribute assets after death, with people typically not seeing wills as family planning documents that can be used for a range of purposes.

"Some people believe they are only for those with significant possessions. However there are other extremely important functions of a will, including nominating guardians for any dependents, confirming funeral arrangements and appointing the will's executors", said Dr Tilse.

The study also found that, in terms of estate planning, wills were the major - but not the only - component of later life planning. Enduring powers of attorney and advance directives were much less commonly used to plan for the future.

Regardless of your age, if you are considering writing a will make sure to discuss this with a wills and estates lawyer.