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More than half of Brits do not have a will. Get a free one this month

More than half of Brits do not have a will. Get a free one this month
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

More than half of Brits do not have a will in place according to a life insurance company, which has called for adults to not leave the ‘huge burden’ of estate planning on loved ones.

Of the 2,000 respondents surveyed by Canada Life, 57% said they had no will set up – equating to over 30 million people, while a third (33%) of those aged over 55 were in the same position.

Reasons for not setting up a will ranged from; not having enough wealth or assets to warrant the decision, (25%), believing there’s plenty of time left to do it (22%), and 14% did not understand the process of setting a will up.

Around one in seven (15%) also believed loved ones would inherit any assets automatically, which can often be far from the reality.

The study comes during Free Wills Month where many charities and organisations across England, Northern Ireland and Wales offer a free will to people aged over 55. Across March and October, solicitors offer up their services without any fee, which on average will cost £100 with more complicated affairs potentially rising to £500.

‘Now is the time to speak’ about wills if you’re worried about its cost

Separate research found a third of adults admitted to not discussing end-of-life preparations with their family, and experts are asking families to reverse this trend.

Stacey Love, technical manager of tax, trusts and estate planning at Canada Life said: “If you are someone who worries about the cost of making a will, now is the time to speak to one of the numerous organisations which offer a free will writing service. This takes place twice a year in March and October, so if you miss out this time, you’ll have another opportunity in a few months.

“However, it’s important not to delay writing a will if possible. At any age, dying without a valid will in place can be a huge burden on your loved ones at a time when they may already be vulnerable and struggling to cope.

“It’s human nature that we don’t want to think about death but writing a will can be a huge weight off yours and your loved one’s shoulders. Don’t be afraid of having an open conversation about it with those you want to leave an inheritance to. A professional financial or legal adviser can be invaluable for offering independent advice and guidance.”

The life insurance company have provided six tips to consider when setting up a will.

What to consider when getting a will

  • The assumption that everything will automatically pass to your loved ones is inaccurate, although the intestacy process (when you die without a valid will) varies across Scotland from England and Wales.
  • Even if you are young, getting a will drafted, signed, and witnessed should be on your bucket list, even if you don’t think you have any real wealth to pass on. Digital assets such as social media accounts and crypto have value – data is the new gold after all.
  • Once you’ve completed your will, don’t just sit back and forget about it. Talk to your family, let them know where it is being kept.
  • Many couples forget that under the current succession laws in England and Wales a cohabitee has no automatic rights under the intestacy rules so a valid will is essential to make sure assets pass to the surviving partner as you would want them to.
  • If you’re a single parent with small children, a will is also an invaluable tool for ensuring that those children are taken care of by the people you trust to look after them. Without these provisions in a will, it’s possible the Courts may decide who should have parental responsibility.
  • It’s commonly assumed that wills are automatically ‘nullified’ on divorce. This isn’t the case, however. Make sure to review your will every couple of years as routine, but also if you go through a big life change such as a divorce. If you don’t, this can obviously cause problems much later down the line.

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