More than half of UK adults (60%) do not have a will, according to new research from Unbiased.
The financial professional finding service says the results mean that as many as 31 million people are at risk of dying intestate, and as a result their assets would be distributed according to strict legal rules and may not go to their intended beneficiaries.
Under the rules of intestacy, the first £250,000 (plus half of everything above that) is paid directly to your spouse or civil partner and any remainder is then distributed evenly between children. If you aren’t married or in a civil partnership the money goes directly to children and in the absence of children, the estate goes to surviving parents, or brothers and sisters if the parents have died. Nieces and nephews are next in line.
As such, those people who would like their money to go to a partner they aren’t married to, a friend, charity or carer are most at risk. Likewise, wealthier people could leave financial chaos behind if sizeable funds ended up with children rather than a surviving spouse.
‘People still aren’t getting the message’
The most common reasons for not having a will was procrastination – survey respondents said they would get around to it when they were older, followed by the belief that they didn’t have enough money to make needing a will a necessity.
Commenting on the findings, Karen Barrett, founder of Unbiased says: “It looks as if people still aren’t getting the message. The huge benefits of having a will, and the even bigger risks of not having one, should be far more widely known and talked about. People think a will is just for the end of their life, and it is – but who knows when that will be?”
Liz Alley, head of financial planning operations at wealth manager Brewin Dolphin, adds: “Getting your affairs in order and planning what you want to pass on to loved ones, whether it’s while you’re alive or after you’ve passed away, is really important. Not only does it mean that your wishes can be carried out but it can also help reduce the emotional and financial burden on loved ones at an already difficult time. We all lead such busy lives that it can be easy to put off estate planning but it’s best to take care of this sooner rather than later.”
Get your will written for free
The offer is available to over 55s who are able to get a simple will written or reviewed, free of charge by a participating solicitor.
Appointments are limited and are on a first come, first served basis so it’s important to apply quickly if you want to take part.
The scheme is supported by charities including Age UK, Blue Cross, NSPCC, Mencap and the Salvation Army. Charities depend on legacies for as much as half their income and it’s hoped that by taking part in the scheme you’ll make a gift to them in your will– although you’re under no obligation to do so.
Hi - according to the website the scheme only operates in England, Wales and Northern