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Study: Fewer than a third of millennial parents have a will

Nationwide Retirement Institute® survey reveals of those who have a will, top triggers for preparing one include having new children, COVID-19 pandemic and getting married

A new Nationwide Retirement Institute® survey finds 71% of millennial parents currently do not have a will. Of those that do have a will, the COVID-19 pandemic was the second most common reason for creating one (39%), along with having new children (40%) and getting married (38%).

According to the survey of 500 millennial parents (26 to 40 years old) conducted between December 11 – December 15, 2020 by Edelman Data and Intelligence, millennial moms are more likely to indicate having children (47% v. 33%) as their biggest trigger for creating a will, while millennial dads are more likely to point to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated death rates (51% v. 26%) as their main reason for creating a will.

“The pandemic is causing many millennial parents to feel a sense of urgency to prioritize their health and financial plans – including making sure their family is protected,” said Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide’s life insurance business. “One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is having a will in place.”

To help Americans protect what’s most important, Nationwide has partnered with digital estate planning platform FreeWill to offer a free online tool for creating a will.

Barriers to creating a will
So why do so many millennial parents not have a will? The biggest barriers to creating one are uncertainty around how to create one and misconceptions about why they are needed. Among those who don’t have a will, 30% of millennial parents agree they don’t know enough about wills, don’t know where to go to start one (29%) and feel they are too healthy (26%) or too young (21%) to need one.

Millennial moms are more likely than millennial dads to both have a will (35% v. 24%) and to answer correctly questions related to coverage. Interestingly, millennial dads are more likely to feel they are too young (27% v. 10%) and too healthy to create a will (33% v. 15%) than their female counterparts.

“A third of millennial parents believe a will is only for people who have children and 61% believe that an attorney is required to prepare a will,” Snyder said. “The reality is a will is important for all adults – no matter your age, health or if you have children – and you do not need an attorney to prepare one.”

Resources for creating a will
The good news is millennial parents are open to creating a will with the right resources. More than four in five say they would create a will if they could do it easily online (84%) and that they would use a free tool to help create a will if it was made available to them (82%).

In partnership with FreeWill, Nationwide is offering a free online tool for creating a will that is open to the public. Anyone can go to https://www.freewill.com/nationwide to create a will in about 20 minutes.

“Our survey reveals 17% of millennial parents think that it takes a week or more to prepare a will,” Snyder said. “In reality, creating a will is quick and easy. Using Nationwide’s online tool, created in partnership with FreeWill – just fill out the information, print out the forms and sign the forms with witnesses to make it official.”


Edelman Data and Intelligence (DxI) conducted the online survey of 500 millennial parents (26 to 40 years old and have one or more children) with an annual household income of $75,000 or more. Fieldwork for the survey was completed between December 11th-15th, 2020.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About FreeWill
FreeWill is an award-winning social venture founded by graduate students at Stanford University in 2016, with the help and support of many of the world’s leading experts in law, design, and philanthropy. FreeWill offers a full range of online estate planning tools including wills, living wills / advance healthcare directives, financial powers of attorney, and revocable living trusts for free. They also make it easy to leave money to charity, helping over 200,000 families leave over $2B in gifts to support important causes. For more information visit www.FreeWill.com.

This material is not a recommendation to buy, sell, hold, or rollover any asset, adopt an investment strategy, retain a specific investment manager or use a particular account type. It does not take into account the specific investment objectives, tax and financial condition or particular needs of any specific person. Investors should work with their financial professional to discuss their specific situation.

This information is general in nature and is not intended to be tax, legal, accounting or other professional advice. The information provided is based on current laws, which are subject to change at any time, and has not been endorsed by any government agency.

Nationwide, Edelman, FreeWill Co. and any referred attorney are not affiliated. Nationwide does not endorse any referred attorney.

Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, OH. Nationwide Retirement Institute is a division of NISC.

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