Nation gripped by 'wills apathy'
More than 30 million people in the UK do not have a will with over a third claiming they have not had the time to write one.
This is a two million increase from 2009, according to professional advice website www.unbiased.co.uk.
But 92% of Britons say they know who they want to receive their assets when they die.
The age group with the highest percentage without a will - 87% of people - understandably falls in the under-35 age group.
However, more than a third of those aged over 55 are still without a will.
Around 70% of adults with children under 18 do not have one and under current law, children not named in a will are only entitled to an inheritance if there is no surviving spouse of the deceased, or if the estate is worth more than £250,000.
By leaving a will, parents can also give details of who should care for their children if they die. Unmarried couples have no right to inherit anything if there is no will in place.
It’s also important to change your will according to your circumstances.
Annette Lepper, head of MORE TH>N legal services, says: "Many assume that if a husband, wife or civil partner dies their estate automatically passed to their spouse, this may not be the case and a substantial amount may go to other relatives."
Apathy remains the biggest reason for people not writing a will with 8% saying it’s never occurred to them. But if you don’t have a will there are no definite rules on who gets what.
Inheritance tax could be due before the estate is released, leaving grieving family or friends to take out expensive loans in order to release the assets.
Karen Barrett, chief executive of www.unbiased.co.uk, says the nation is gripped by "wills apathy" leaving a large proportion of spouses, partners and children unprotected.
"Many people are simply unaware that should they die without a will, their assets are distributed according to the rules of intestacy – meaning their assets may not be going to those they would like them to go to,"she adds.
However, consumers should beware scam will writers who are on the rise. For more, click here.
The tax levied on the total value of your estate after you die. IHT has to be paid by the beneficiaries of your estate before they can receive any of the money from it. The money can’t be taken from the value of the estate _– it has to be paid before any money can be released. There is an IHT threshold – known as the “nil-rate band” – below which no tax is levied (£325,000 in 2011/12). Any amount above the nil-rate band is subject to tax at 40%. If your estate totals £600,000, there is no tax on the first £325,000; however your estate will pay 40% tax on the remaining £275,000, a total of £110,000. Prudent tax planning can reduce your IHT liability, so always consult a specialist solicitor.
Everything you own: all your assets (property, cars, investments, savings, insurance payouts, artwork, furniture etc) minus any liabilities (debts, current bills, payments still owed on assets like cars and houses, credit card balances and other outstanding loans). When you’re alive this is called your wealth; when you’re dead, it becomes your estate.