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More single people opt to make out last wills

By ZHOU WENTING | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-03-24 23:53

Ding Song, a Shanghai native in his 30s, is a single man who lives alone. After learning that some of his peers have been encountering serious health issues of late, he recently decided to make out a last will and testament.

"I'm an only child and I hope that my mother's livelihood can be better guaranteed in case something unexpected happens to me," said Ding, whose father has already passed away.

In the will, he made it clear that he will leave a large proportion of his inheritance to his mother and the rest to a friend, who he has designated as a carer for his mother should it be necessary.

"I don't believe it's too early to take inheritance issues into consideration at my age. It helps us to better face up to our lives," said Ding.

Like Ding, a growing number of unmarried individuals in the country have been making out wills in recent years, according to an annual white book released by the China Will Registration Center. And as Tomb Sweeping Day draws near — which falls on April 5 this year and is a traditional day for Chinese to pay respects to their dearly departed — the reality of one's mortality is all the more evident.

Altogether 101 unmarried individuals made out their wills at the center in 2017, with the figure rising to 344 last year. A total of some 1,400 single individuals have made their wills at the center, and more than 70 percent of these are women, according to the white book based on data from the more than 250,000 wills made at the center since its establishment a decade ago.

Official figures show that the single adult population in China has grown to 300 million, and surveys showed that around one in four in this demographic is simply not interested in marriage.

Chen Kai, director of the management committee of the China Will Registration Center, said that parents have been the beneficiaries of most wills made out by younger single individuals, and in 18 percent of such cases, a friend, who is not an heir based on kinship, was designated.

Also, the number of young people making wills has been rising over the years. In 2022, nearly one in three people aged 60 or below who made their wills at the center were in their 30s. Over the past decade, the average age of will makers at the center fell from 77 to 68.

The white book also mentioned that 62 percent of people who interacted in a mini-program launched by the will registration center on WeChat were aged below 30.

The major cities of Shanghai and Beijing are leading the ranks in terms of the number of young and middle-aged people making wills, according to the white book. Altogether 2,500 people aged below 60 have made their wills at the center, accounting for 23 percent of the national total.

Most of such individuals were healthy and had good relationships with their family members, and they said they made their wills simply as preparation for any future uncertainties. Real estate and bank savings were involved in 98 percent and 36 percent of such wills, respectively.

A 34-year-old Shanghai woman surnamed Chen made out a will before tying the knot last year. Her parents had designated her as the sole owner of the only apartment they had, but Chen was worried how her parents' lives would be affected in their golden years if she were to meet with an untimely demise.

"My husband is a legal heir, but I still want to return the ownership of the apartment to my parents if something unexpected happens to me. So I made out the will," she said.

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