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Half of UK adults don’t have a will

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

One in two UK adults, including a third of those aged over 55, don’t have a will, according to Canada Life.

The most common reason for someone not having a will was the person thinking they didn’t have enough assets or wealth to warrant making one (24%), according to research by the life insurance company.

Almost one in five people (17%) thought their loved ones would automatically inherit their wealth regardless, while 15% of those questioned said they couldn’t afford to make a will. The same proportion (15%) thought they had plenty of time to make a will, while 14% didn’t know how to make a will.

According to Canada Life, more than a quarter (28%) of all UK adults, both with and without wills, said that leaving loved ones with lots of paperwork worried them when it comes to not having a will.

The study found that half (51%) of Brits have never talked about making a will; of those who had discussed it, most had spoken to partners or spouses (59%), with children coming in second (33%).

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Stacey Love, technical manager for tax, trusts and estate planning at Canada Life, said: “It’s a shame that people still believe that making a will is a challenging process. 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.

“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. Also make sure to review it every couple of years – family circumstances change over time, and you need to make sure your will evolves too.”

Canada Life pointed out that many couples forget that under the current succession laws in England and Wales, a co-habitee has no automatic rights under the intestacy rules. So if you’re not married to your partner, a valid will is essential to make sure your assets will pass to them in the event of your death.

If you’re a single parent, a will is also an invaluable tool for ensuring your 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.

How to write a will

Many charities offer a “free” will service  – although this usually comes with an expectation of leaving a legacy to the charity.

Some retailers also sell “will packs” which enable you to do it yourself – but you still need to get the document witnessed when you sign it.

Alternatively, most solicitor’s firms offer low fee deals on their will drafting services, while your employer may offer a third-party will service for employees.