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More than half of UK adults do not have a will: write an airtight one now

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More than half the UK adult population do not have a will in place, meaning they have no control of how their assets will be divided after their death.

Some 59% of people aged 18 and over risk dying intestate because they have not written a will, with young adults, perhaps unsurprisingly, least prepared, according to research by Prudential and, a financial advice search site.

Worryingly, 36% of over 55s have no will, up from 30% last year.

The rules around dying intestate are complex and will depend on your family situation, but essentially it means your final wishes may not be met.

The most common reasons people gave for not having a will were putting it off until they were older and not thinking they had enough worth passing on.

However, the average homeowner has over £214,000 worth of property alone to bequeath to loved ones, up from £205,000 in 2015 and £182,000 in 2014, the research suggests.

The findings were released to mark the start of Write a Will Week, part of the annual Tax Action campaign, which revealed Brits were due to pay £4.6bn in unnecessary tax in 2016, including £595m in inheritance tax.

Les Cameron, tax specialist at Prudential, said: “It’s important to have an up-to-date will to ensure that your estate passes to those you want it to, as tax efficiently as possible, when you die.  Trusts are often created in wills to control an estate beyond death, perhaps due to complicated family circumstances or when considering the financial position of the beneficiaries.

“Making a will can range from being a fairly simple to a very complex area of financial planning and an adviser can work together with a solicitor to make sure you have the right will in place for your personal circumstances.”

Six top tips on getting your will air-tight and right the first time from Saga Legal:

1. First off, make sure you choose the right will for you. There are several different types which change according to your circumstances and wishes.

2. Think carefully about who you want to draw up your will; after all, it is one of the most important documents you will ever have. If you decide to do it yourself, ensure you seek legal advice to ensure it is correctly drawn up as mistakes are easy to make. For solicitors, will-writing specialists and online legal service providers, it is best to choose one which is SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) registered and it is wise to check they have the relevant insurance should something go wrong at a later date.

3. Do some research and have a good understanding of what a will can do. If you are using a professional, don’t be shy to ask lots of questions and to explain exactly what you want to happen to your estate. When it comes to a document as significant as a will, there are no bad questions to ask.

4. Before you sign, make sure to check your will thoroughly. If in doubt, ask for clarification.

5. Make sure your will is properly and safely stored. Look for providers who offer a print, bind and store service so your executors know exactly where your will is when they need it. If your will cannot be found, the wishes therein cannot be put into action. For example, if someone who would otherwise benefit under intestacy found your will, could you be sure they would announce it rather than plead ignorance to secure a windfall?

6. Don’t forget, if your circumstances change through divorce, re-marriage or new births, your will may well need to be updated. Never assume that your estate will automatically pass on to your next of kin as this is not always the case.

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