Chinese seniors are making wills sooner as growing wealth could lead to a higher risk of inheritance disputes, according to a report released on Thursday.
China Will Registration Center White Paper 2018, released by the China Aging Development Foundation and Beijing Sunny Senior Health Foundation, said the average age of those making a will was 71.26 last year, down from 77.43 in 2013.
The youngest age group－ages 61 to 70－represented 44.2 percent of the total who had made wills, according to the report.
That number was less than 28 percent in 2013, and has been climbing for the past five years, the report said.
Meanwhile, the numbers for will-makers among all three older age groups (71 to 80, 81 to 90 and 91 and above) have seen a notable decline, the report said.
The findings were based on an analysis of 127,968 wills deposited at the China Will Registration Center, a nonprofit organization launched by the two foundations in 2013 to offer free advice to people over 60 looking to use a will to avoid inheritance disputes.
About 75 percent of those with wills are married, 55 percent are women, and about one-fourth have college degrees. More than half have more than one child.
The drop in age for making wills has occurred against the backdrop of growing personal wealth and an increase in inheritance disputes.
More than 99 percent of the wills focus on the division of real estate, while 18.49 percent deal in a significant way with passing down bank savings, the report said.
Forty-seven percent of will-makers own at least two properties, it said. That could easily put the value of their wealth at tens of millions of yuan in first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
According to China Judgments Online－a digital archive of verdicts－there were more than 34,600 inheritance-related civil verdicts nationwide last year, compared with 25,000 three years ago.
Zhai Jingmin, former vice-president of Beijing High People's Court, said with the growth of wealth, seniors are looking to avoid disputes, which have become common.
"Many siblings have taken disputes to court, which has led to the breakup of family bonds," he said, adding that making wills in advance is preferred to avoid such fights.