5 min read

The Socio-Economic Divide in Estate Planning: Who Actually Has a Will in Australia?

The wealth gap in Australia is staggering. The top 10% of the wealth distribution own nearly half of all wealth in the country. The top 1%? They own the same as the bottom 60% combined. Across schools, careers and neighbourhoods, this divide is apparent. And whilst the estate planning demographic is no different, its skew towards the richer populations represents a key socioeconomic divide which is perpetuating a generational wealth gap over time. Today, we explore the demographic of the Will writing space. Exploring which Australians are writing their Wills, what the barriers are to others not, and the consequences of wealth inequalities within the estate planning space.

Generational wealth

Wills and estate planning are important aspects of financial planning, yet are neglected and misunderstood by large portions of Australian society. While the demographic of Will holders is dominated by higher income individuals, those from lower income backgrounds are much less likely to have any form of estate plan or will in place. Marking a reality which is making the rich richer, and leaving the already vulnerable even less protected.

How the wealth divide worsens generational inequalities?

With trust funds, power of attorney’s, asset protection and allocation, the interests of richer families and those left behind are frequently taken care of in death. In contrast, for the majority of low income individuals, they leave behind families with a lack of direction or distribution automation to get them through this time. Appointed court executors might not have the same insight or emotional investment to fully account for these families. There's delays either way. And over time, this demographic divide in estate planning leads to less generational wealth being passed down for the poor, more for the rich and ultimate persisting inequalities.

What are the barriers to will-writing in Australia?

Theres persisting, generational wealth damage from not having a Will in place. But now more than ever, theres less barriers to the non-wealthy doing so. So why are more Australians not writing their Will?

  1. Perceived Financial Barriers

For any Australian family struggling to put good food on the table, pay for their children’s education and live a fulfilled life in the process- the thought of spending money on a Will can seem backward. When money’s that sparse for living, why waste a penny for death?

There's this perception that creating a Will involves multiple legal fee’s, and a hefty dent in precious savings or money which could be spent on other things. For any normal money-conscious family, even the toss up between writing your will or having an extra generous christmas can feel like a no brainer. And so whether through genuine inability to afford, or perceptions of greater than the reality cost, those not in the highest brackets of income are often put off the estate planning process.

2. Lack of access to information and resources

Linking into this perception issue, is the lack of knowledge surrounding estate planning amongst those from lower income backgrounds. Whether this necessitates unaffordable legal advice, or removes the incentive to write a will in the first place through lack of understanding surrounding its importance- lack of information is a key barrier preventing many lower income families from writing their will in Australia.

A lack of resources highlighting the widely accessible benefits of estate planning, can also fuel this perception that wills are only beneficial and relevant to the super rich. This misconception is perpetuated by the perceived time burden of wills, estate planning or setting up a trust fund. Ultimately meaning your everyday Australian feels unable to squeeze in a laborious (and costly) Will writing process into their busy schedule.

3. Lack of trust in financial institutions and the legal system.

Many individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds may have had negative experiences with financial or legal institutions, and have built up distrust towards them acting in their best interests. This can lead to a reluctance to engage with these institutions typically associated with Will writing in Australia. Contributing to an ultimate lack of action towards protecting their assets and ensuring their wishes are carried out.

How does Safewill help narrow the wealth gap in Wills?

We're motivated to narrowing the wealth gap in the estate planning space, and widening access to the benefits of will writing. That's why we're pushing out informative resources, cutting the price of Will writing and removing time constraints not suited to every schedule.

Increased information & resources

Safewill provides an array of free and accessible information on our website, as well as through our free phone or live chat services. These aim to promote the universal benefits of writing a will and planning your estate, whilst simultaneously providing resources on how to get started with this process.

Making it more affordable

What many Australians don’t realise, is that will writing isn’t what it used to be. You can now write an online will at a fraction of the traditional cost, and without the repeated burden of multiple financial payments or lawyer appointments.

At Safewill, we know that neither the necessity nor the benefits of a Will are exclusive to the super rich. We also don’t believe that premium fees should make it this way either. That’s why we’re passionate about making wills easy to budget for with a once-off, all inclusive, and affordable fee.

Increasing flexibility

Online wills also offer increased access through their flexible nature. Unlike traditional wills, the Safewill platform works around anyone’s schedule. Whether that's working night shifts or weekends, with an online will it’s easy to write and update at any time, place or day of the week.

To Wrap Up:

In conclusion, the socioeconomic divide in estate planning in Australia is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It disproportionately blocks generational wealth being passed down to lower income families, and worsens wealth inequalities over time.

In light of this issue, Safewill works to increase the accessibility of wills, estates, Australian trust funds and power of attorney across different demographics. Whether that’s through widening access to information and resources, reducing the cost of creating a will or eliminating time pressure of the estate planning process. Safewill aims to make Wills more accessible to you.

Get in touch with us today on 1800 103 310 , or via live chat now, to discuss writing your will today.

Last updated 24th January 2023
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Hannah Comiskey
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Safewill is an online service providing streamlined forms and information. Safewill is not a law firm or a substitute for a lawyer’s advice about complex estate planning issues.