Year in Wills report 2023

Welcome to Farewill’s Year in Will’s Report 2023. Dive in to discover the patterns we’ve 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.

Charity gift giving remained high, while people had less to give

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. We saw an average £1.01m left to each of our charity partners in 2023, up 20% from £0.84m in 2022.

Baby Boomers and Gen Z were the most generous

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.

Families had fewer investment assets to leave as cost of living bites

The inclusion of stocks and shares in wills dropped by 14% since 2022. This could be due to families selling assets to pay for more immediate needs during the cost of living crisis.

Crypto inclusion on the decline

Crypto inclusion in wills mirrors the rise and fall in bitcoin prices. In 2023, we saw its lowest inclusion rate since 2020, dropping by two thirds in two years. Crypto inclusion rises when bitcoin prices peak, as they did in 2019 and 2021, but inclusion was dramatically lower in years with lower bitcoin prices. Crypto is definitely a younger person's game, being almost entirely left by Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X. Baby Boomers and Post War very rarely leave crypto in their wills.

The oldest generation has less property to give

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. 

This could indicate that Post War accumulated less wealth, or it could be that they have less left after paying for their retirement and care. 

Millennials left property nearly as often as Baby Boomers

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. This could indicate that only the wealthiest of Gen Z are able to afford homes thus far.

More people than ever are making provision for their pets

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

Jewellery is still treasured, but so are bags and shoes

The most treasured possessions left to family and friends in wills written in 2023 were jewellery. It’s not hard to imagine why, as wedding rings and family heirlooms hold a special place in our hearts. 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.

Younger generations are 3x more likely to leave shoes, clothes and bags than the older ones

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. Interestingly, Gen X loves a watch much more than both younger or older generations, giving one 50% more often than any other generation.

No-fuss funerals are increasing in popularity

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.

Tips for writing your will

Writing your will is the simplest way to have your say over what happens to your money, property and personal possessions when you die. It doesn't need to be complicated, time consuming or expensive.

  1. Start by making notes The more you think about it upfront, the easier you’ll find it to write your will. So start by asking yourself these questions:

    • Who do I want to inherit my money and property?

    • What do I want each of my loved ones to get? 

    • Do I want to leave money to charity? 

    • Are there any specific gifts I’d like to leave people? 

    Once you’ve figured these things out and got it all down on paper, you’ll have taken a big first step towards writing your will.

  2. Make a list of people you trust Your will lets you name legal guardians for your children and who should look after your pets. You will also need to choose your executors (these are the people who will sort everything out when you’re gone). Before making any big decisions, it’s a good idea to write out a list of options. This could include people like: 

    • your partner 

    • your children 

    • your parents

    • your siblings

    • your best friend

  3. Do it your way

There are many ways to make a will. So shop around until you find a service and price that suits you. You could do:

With Farewill, you’ll be able to ask questions and get guidance along the way.

Methodology

For this report we’ve analysed anonymised data from thousands of the wills people wrote with us in 2023, and compared this to our data for 2016 and through to 2022. All data was collated between 1 January and 31 December 2023.

The Farewill data we’ve looked at includes: customer numbers over time, customer demographics, cash and possessions left as gifts and money pledged to charities.

The generation brackets we’ve used

  • Gen Z, born 1997 – 2012

  • Millennials, born 1981 – 1996

  • Gen X, born 1965 – 1980 

  • Baby Boomers, born 1946 – 1964

  • Post War, born 1928 – 1945

All data is fully anonymised when we analyse it.

Article reviewed