More than 31 million adults in the UK don’t have a will

03 Oct 2017 Over half (60%) of UK adults are currently without a will, according to new research out today from Unbiased.co.uk.

The number of people without a will in the UK is at an all-time high, passing the previous peak in 20112. It means that over 31 million now run the risk of dying intestate and having their estate distributed solely according to intestacy law, which may not reflect their wishes.

With age comes wisdom

Those aged 55 and over are three times more likely to have a will than those aged 18-34. However, even in this age group more than a third (37%) are still without one. The most striking figure, however, is from the 35-54 age group. This is the group most likely to have dependents and other major financial commitments such as mortgages, yet nearly three quarters have taken no steps to ensure their loved ones would inherit according to their wishes.

Age Percentage who have a will
55 + 63%
35 – 54 28%
18 – 34 16%

 

“I will make a will… but not yet.”

What excuses do people give for not having a will? The most popular reason was the procrastinator’s response: over a quarter (26%) said they planned to make one later in life. Last year the figure was 23%, so the number saying ‘I’ll do it later’ is actually going up as time goes by.

 

Reason Rank
I plan to make a will when I’m older 1
I don’t think I will have any estate/assets left to be worth writing a will 2
It never occurred to me 3
I can’t afford the cost of setting up a will 4
I don’t know how to go about writing a will 5

 

One in ten (11%) said they were put off by the cost of writing a will. These respondents seemed unaware that it would cost their relatives far more to sort out their estate, if they were to die without a will.

What are people leaving behind in their wills?

Turning to those UK adults who have made a will, these individuals expect to leave an average of £227,000 in property and £74,000 in monetary savings to loved ones when they die. Property assets have steadily increased since 2015, with property assets up by £5,000. However, savings are down by £2,000 from 2016.

Assets allocated via wills 2015 average value 2016 average value 2017 average value
Property £222,000 £224,000 £227,000
A business £109,000 £87,000 £103,000
Tangible assets e.g. paintings, jewellery £33,000 £25,000 £27,000
Monetary savings e.g. cash, national savings, pension £64,000 £76,000 £74,000

Karen Barrett, CEO and founder of Unbiased said, “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?

“It’s clear that many people think they’re just not ‘rich enough’ to need a will. This ignores the fact that a will makes inheritance a far quicker process – do they really want to keep their loved ones waiting longer, when that money might be badly needed? It also doesn’t take into account the complexity of modern families, which intestacy law simply doesn’t address. Children from previous marriages could end up receiving nothing at all.

“People tend not to think about wills, because they don’t like to think about death. But what 60% of Brits should certainly think about is the headache and expense they will cause their families if they die intestate. At best, it will be inconvenient; at worst, it could trigger bitter disputes and lead to some loved ones missing out entirely. Yet it’s so easy to prevent this from happening – a quick consultation with a solicitor is all it may take.

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