Aussies’ surprising $190 safeguard against coronavirus
Exclusive: More Australians are looking for fast, affordable ways to set up their will and get their financial affairs together as the coronavirus pandemic spreads - and it's not just the elderly doing it.
New data obtained by News Corp from Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn has revealed there has been a 34 per cent rise in the average number of inquiries about wills across the country compared to the same monthly average last year.
The firm's National Head of Wills and Estates, Andrew Simpson, told News Corp they have had 30,000 people visit their website's landing page about wills since mid-January.
"Those numbers have staggered us to be honest," he said.
"We certainly have had clients concerned about coronavirus particularly in the context of overseas travel.
"What they are saying is 'I'm travelling overseas, therefore I want to make sure my will is done before I go'."
Mr Simpson said others are accessing their online will application form because they are wary of getting public transport to come in and see a lawyer.
"We offer a service where people can upload their data from home or work and there's no need to see a lawyer face-to-face," he said.
"It's designed to be convenient for people and they can have a conference over the phone as it's being done which is $399 for a single and $599 for a couple."
New Australian digital Will-writing platform SafeWill is also seeing a spike in the number of people inquiring through its online service that can be done on an iPhone in under 30 minutes.
Prices start from $190 for individuals and go up to $285 for couples.
Safewill CEO Adam Lubofsky told News Corp they have had customers from across all metro and regional areas aged 18 up to 90.
"The concern around coronavirus is a contributing factor, we've had a number of them voice concern around it," he said.
"The number of wills now being written daily has doubled over the past two months, compared to the two months prior.
"It's prompting them to take action to safeguard their life's work and protect the people they love."
Mr Lubofsky said once people submit their will application, it is checked by a lawyer who comes back to customers within 48 hours and sends them a soft copy they must print out and sign to make it official.
If customers want to add to their will in real-time they can do it online, as their personal circumstances change.
Other companies profiting from coronavirus include health stocks, biotech giants like CSL, vitamin brands and companies like A2 Milk whose shares have surged in China in the first two months of 2020.
Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures Kleenex toilet paper in Australia, is also profiting after boosting production lines to run 24 hours a day at its South Australian factory.
Sorbent Paper Company, which makes toilet paper in Box Hill in Melbourne, has also seen a surge as customers queue outside.
ABC Tissue, the maker of Quilton, has tripled production in its factories in Queensland, New South Wales and Forrestfield in WA.
Coles and Woolworths have also seen profits rise as panic-buying continues.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle said people are resorting to such emotional actions as getting a will because they don't have a rational answer to the virus.
"It is part of that whole over-reaction that we have because of the fear of such unknowns about the coronavirus," he said.
"One of the deepest fears of humans are these unseen diseases, we go back to the dark ages and Middle Ages and we see the pandemics and we have the deep seeded fear of it … usually we see scientists heading out there with answers.
"But because there is no inoculation yet, science doesn't have the answer and pseudoscience steps in and people are using social media, panic-buying starts."
Dean Joffe said the coronavirus gave him and his wife Ali the "final kick" to get their will together.
The Sydney couple who have two children, Max, 2, and Ava, nine months, told News Corp they had been thinking about getting a will for a while but put it off because the high cost of seeing a lawyer was "prohibitive".
"Coronavirus brought it to our attention that it was important to have our affairs in order," Mr Joffe said.
"We knew we needed to do it, and had been thinking about it for a while when we had our first child and saw a financial adviser.
"But everyone needs to get a will, not just because the virus is happening."