Gumersalls News

Gumersalls News

Report Reveals Fewer Than Half Of UK Adults Have Wills

by | May 20, 2024 | News

Will solicitors will regularly advise people they need to make a will and can tell many stories of messy situations and family rows over inheritance caused by people dying intestate. Nonetheless, it remains the case that millions of Britons have failed to make one yet.

The reality of the situation was indicated by a consumer survey of British adults and further interviews with solicitors involved in wills and probate, published in the UK Wills & Probate Consumer Research Report 2024.

It found that fewer than four in ten adults have made a will, although the majority of those who have not say they do intend to, but have not yet got round to it. The survey identified the 45-54 age group as being particularly important in this regard, as this demographic has built up a lot of assets and needs to be persuaded to take the time to make a will.

In addition, the study revealed many people in higher income brackets have yet to make a will.

This is not to say that there is a free-for-all if someone dies intestate. There are some legal rules in place in England and Wales while, as ever, Scotland has its own arrangements. These rules are designed to divide up assets based on family relationships.

For instance, if the deceased is married or in a civil partnership and has children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit all assets up to a value of £270,000. Anything above this amount will be split 50-50 between the surviving partner and the children, who will get an equal share of the remaining half.

This may all sound fair and good, but consider what happens if this does not describe your ideal circumstances.

What if you have less than £270,000 in assets and want some to go to your children? Or if a poor personal relationship means you want to make a payment to one but not another, or provide more for one who is struggling compared to another who is in a financially strong position.  What if you want to give to someone outside the family, or a charity?

Intestacy arrangements can lead to a lot of disputes and family conflicts, as individuals argue they should have received more and claim they were promised this or that – all without the document to back it up, meaning that while they may not have legal means of redress, the legacy you leave behind could be one of pain and resentment.

A second concern highlighted by the report was that a growing number of people who do make wills are not going to solicitors, but venturing down the DIY route or using unregulated advisors.

This may save money, but it is a very unwise move. It could mean a will is not legally compliant and could omit some important details. This could make it more likely the document is contested.

Nobody likes to think about their death, but the reality is there will be people who will be left behind to deal with it. Funeral arrangements and what happens to your assets are both things you can take care of now.

Whether your passing is many years away or occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, you can take important steps to ensure that whenever it happens, those who mourn will not be faced with the additional upset of uncertainty and family disputes.