Majority at Risk as They Don’t Have a Will

Most people in the United Kingdom are at risk of not having their final wishes respected after their death as they have no will in place, according to new research from Which? Legal.

The survey revealed that less than a third (31%) of those in Scotland have written a will, compared with 35% in Wales. In England, results were almost as poor with just four in 10 (42%) having a will in place.

A staggering six in 10 (61%) told us that they don’t have a will. When we asked why, four in 10 (38%) told us that they had nothing worth inheriting, one in five (20%) said that writing a will had not occurred to them, and 16% said they had been too busy.

Which? Legal found that those that did have a will in place waited until they were 47 years old, on average, before writing it

When asked whether they would leave money to charity, two thirds (67%) said that they would not. Of those, the majority (64%) said this was because they wanted to leave their money to family.

There was a clear generational divide in attitudes towards charitable giving, with 57% of 18-24 year olds saying they would leave money to charity in their will, while just 19% of those aged over 65 said they would make some form of donation.

Risks of not having a will:

  • You won’t be able to decide exactly who gets your assets after your death.
  • You may not be able to ensure adequate provision for your financial dependants.
  • Your family may encounter additional legal fees, challenges and taxes.
  • You may not have appointed guardians for any of your children under 18. Legally speaking guardians could be appointed in legal documents other than a will, although using a will is the most common way of doing it.
  • If you are not married to your partner, they may be deprived of their home or your joint wealth, as intestacy rules do not recognise unmarried couples.
  • You won’t know who will care for your pets.

Darren Stott, Managing Director of Which? Legal, said: “It’s clear that people don’t appreciate the risks of not having a valid will in place. Even if you think you have nothing worth inheriting, this is often not the case.

“Whatever stage of life you’re at, a will offers peace of mind and ensures that your money, property and other possessions go to the right place.

“Giving money to charity in your will can be a tax efficient way to pass your money on.”

Percentage of people with a will (regional breakdown):

  • South West – 47%
  • Northern Ireland – 47%
  • Eastern – 44%
  • East Midlands – 44%
  • South East – 40%
  • North East – 36%
  • North West – 36%
  • Wales – 35%
  • West Midlands – 35%
  • Yorkshire & Humberside – 34%
  • Scotland – 31%
  • London – 31%

(Source: Which? Legal)

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