The majority of UK adults do not have a will in place, according to the latest research from Prudential and Unbiased.co.uk, the IFA and solicitor search engine.
The research found that more than half (59%) of adults are still yet to formally spell out who they would like to receive their money and property when they die. Unsurprisingly older people are the most likely to have written a will, but in a worrying trend the numbers that are doing so have fallen over the last year. Currently more than three in ten (36%) over-55s don’t have a will, up from 30% in 2015.
Those living in the North West and London were least likely to have written a will at 67% and 64% respectively. People in the North East were the most prepared with only 46% failing to write a will, followed closely by the South West at 45%.
When people were asked why they hadn’t written a will, the most popular response (at 23%) was that they were waiting until they were older, followed by not believing they were wealthy enough to need a will at 16%. For 13% of respondents the thought of writing a will had simply never occurred to them while 11% said their money would automatically go to the right person when they die.
Thanks to rising house prices the amount of money people expect to pass on in property has risen over the last year, from £182,000 in 2014, to £214,530 in 2016. However, the amount people expect to pass on in tangible assets (such as art, jewellery and family heirlooms) has fallen from £23,000 in 2015 to £18,200 this year.
Commenting on the findings, Karen Barrett, chief executive at Unbiased.co.uk says: “Overall, fewer people have a will in place this year than in previous years. When we look at the breakdown of what people expect to leave – which in the majority of cases is property – this drop in will-making is a concern. Property prices have gone up over the last year, and we can see from this data that the anticipated property value that people expect to leave behind has increased. It’s worrying that despite this people are still not taking steps to ensure their final wishes are adhered to.”
‘It’s important to have an up to date will’
The research marks the launch of Write a Will week, a part of the annual Tax Action campaign, which reports how much unnecessary tax is paid each year. In the last year it found that some £595 million was paid in inheritance tax that could have been avoided with better financial planning.
Les Cameron, tax specialist at Prudential adds: “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.”
If you’re thinking of getting a will, November is Will Aid month, where participating solicitors will waive their fee in return for a voluntary donation to charity. The suggested donation is £95 for a basic will or £150 for a pair of mirror wills.