China’s young people leaving digital assets in wills

More young people in China have been preparing wills that include digital assets that previous generations would not have considered, according to a recent article in The Straits Times.

The news site reports that a recently released white paper from the China Will Registration Centre, more than 1,200 people born in the 1990s have registered their wills with the centre.

In addition, some 553 people did so last year, 80 percent more than in 2020—perhaps triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The figures include more than 220 people born this century, which means that the oldest of whom would only be in their early 20s, have also registered wills at the registration centre.

Bank deposits and gaming accounts

Most of the assets listed in young people’s wills are bank deposits, Alipay and WeChat (Chinese-based multi-purpose apps with payment platforms) pay balances as well as accounts for virtual or online games.

While 71.6 percent of those born in the 1990s included real estate in their wills, many of the properties were purchased by parents in their children’s names. People born in the 1980s (Millennials) have main assets of real estate and bank savings, but 13.1 percent of their wills included company equity and 14.1 percent securities funds.

The director of the centre’s management committee, Mr Chen Kai, said that those born in the 80s have ageing parents and young children with multifaceted interests and it was these factors that had pushed them into thinking about making their wills at an earlier age.

Reasons for making a will

The white paper said there were many reasons why young people decided to make their wills. The survey revealed that one factor was young people’s belief that accidents could happen at any time and that they didn’t want to die without having some input into what happens to their possessions.

The centre revealed that a 17-year-old had made a will early in 2021. He told the centre’s staff that he had been helping out in a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic and seen many critically ill patients. That experience convinced him that the future is unpredictable and that if he should die, all his savings should be left to his mother.

Mr Chen said cases such as this show that people are making a will at a younger age and people’s ideas about making a will are also changing. A different attitude towards life and death also shows that people are becoming more rational when they review their past and plan their future when they make a will.

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