58% of adults 'without a will'Many at risk of dying 'intestate'

28 April 2010

The Will papers

Writing a will is much simpler than you may think

58% of adults have not made a will, a new YouGov survey has revealed – although 32% say that they ‘always meant to but never got round to it’.

The poll, conducted on behalf of children’s charity Barnardo’s, reveals that an alarming amount of people run the risk of their assets being distributed in a way they hadn’t planned, should they die unexpectedly.

The charity’s survey also reveals that a staggering 74% of adults who co-habit with a partner have not made a will. This is of particular concern because – despite the persistence of the ‘common law marriage’ myth - partners who live together currently have no automatic entitlement to the other’s property when one of them passes away.

Why you need a will

According to the Barnardo’s poll, 61% of the adults who had made a will did so before the age of 41. 22% of people with a will cite having a child as the key reason for writing one.

A further 23% of adults said financial planning was the main reason for having a will in place. Which? wills expert Ian Robinson said: ‘Writing a will puts you in the driving seat when it comes to the distribution of your wealth – known as your estate – after you die. It allows you to make plans for the financial futures of the people you love.

‘If you don’t have a will, this is called dying ‘intestate’ – and the rules that come into force in this situation may leave your loved ones seriously out of pocket.

‘Anyone who lives as part of a cohabiting couple is particularly vulnerable to the intestacy rules. Currently, if you are unmarried, other than for jointly-owned assets, your partner will have no rights to a share of your estate if you die - no matter how long you have lived with them, and even if you have children together.’

Writing a will

If you’re concerned that making a will might be very costly, be sure to read the free Which? Writing a will advice guide. It explains in more detail why it’s crucial to make a will, but also contains top tips for producing one without unnecessary expense.

Which? Legal Service now offers a specialist will-writing service, with single wills priced at £89 and mirror wills (two identical wills, perhaps for members of a couple) costing £129.

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