Millions of people risk dying without making a will because they don’t think they have anything worth inheriting, new research from Which? Legal shows.
The survey of over 2,000 people found that six in 10 (61%) don’t have a will in place – and those that did typically waited until the age of 47 to get one written up.
Many said they didn’t have a will because they had nothing worth inheriting (38%). But one in five (20%) said writing a will hadn’t crossed their mind and 16% said they were too busy to make one.
Which? explains why writing a will is important – even if you have few worldly possessions – and how to make one without it taking up too much of your time.
- Whether you’d like to do-it-yourself or have us create one for you, Which? Wills can help – call on 01992 879 622 today.
Who needs to have a will?
A will is a legal document that sets out who you want to administer your estate, as well as what you want to happen to all your worldly possessions, such as your home, cash and personal items, when you die.
It also acts as a way to state who you want to look after any children under the age of 18 when you’re no longer around to care for them.
If you don’t have a will in place, intestacy rules determine how your estate is divided, and a court will decide who looks after your dependents when you die – which might not necessarily align with your wishes.
So, it’s a good idea to have a will in place to make sure your belongings are passed onto the right people when you die and your dependents are properly cared for.
- Find out more: Reasons for making a will
Where people have a will in the UK
The survey revealed just under a third of people in Scotland (31%) and London (31%) had written a will detailing their final wishes.
By contrast, nearly half of people in Northern Ireland (47%) and the South West (47%) had a will in place – but that’s still remarkably low.
The risks of dying without a will
Apart from not having a say in who gets what, dying without a will you can create a range of other problems for those you leave behind.
If you’re not married to your partner, then they may be deprived of their home or your joint wealth, because intestacy rules do not recognise unmarried couples.
You’ll have no say in how your children are financially supported when you die and or who their legal guardians will be.
If you have step-children or foster children, they won’t automatically inherit anything, so may be left out entirely.
Without a will, your loved ones might also encounter extra legal fees, challenges from estranged family members and taxes that might have been legally avoided through some prior planning, like giving to charity. You can find out more in our guide to inheritance tax planning and tax-free gifts
Darren Stott, managing director of Which? Legal, said: ‘It’s clear that people don’t appreciate the risks of not having a valid will in place. Even if you think you have nothing worth inheriting, this is often not the case.
‘Whatever stage of life you’re at, a will offers peace of mind and ensures that your money, property and other possessions go to the right place.’
How to write a will
You can write a will yourself, or get a solicitor or professional will writer to make one for you.
Writing a will yourself makes sense if dividing your estate will be straightforward. But if your family setup or financial assets are complicated you could benefit from professional advice.
For more information on what your legal obligations are, you can read our guide on how to make a will.
Alternatively, whether you want to do-it-yourself or have someone draft a will for you, Which? Wills can help you with the process.