Thirty one million UK adults don't have a will in place, says new research

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Three in five (59 per cent) UK adults have not written a will, new research from Canada Life today reveals. This equates to 31 million people, whose property, financial and other assets could be left to someone they have not chosen when they die.

Canada Life is suggesting it doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated to put your affairs in order by writing a will and it can prevent significant problems when dealing with your estate.

Of those who have not written a will yet, 22 per cent are over the age of 75 and 39 per cent are aged 65-74. Worryingly, a third (32 per cent) of those aged 75+ haven’t even started thinking about writing a will yet. 

Since the start of lockdown, those aged between 25-34 have, however, started the will writing process or made changes to their existing one. During this period, a fifth (21 per cent) of 25 to 34-year-olds started thinking about writing a will for the first time and one in 10 (12 per cent) wrote one. A further 30 per cent updated an existing will.

Canada Life also asked respondents if they had a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place yet, finding that just 12 per cent of UK adults had an LPA in place before the Covid-19 lockdown. However, 6 per cent said they had engaged a solicitor or the Office of the Public Guardian2 during the pandemic to put an LPA in place.

Only 13 per cent of UK adults have written a living will, which is used to provide advanced decisions on refusing medical treatments if you become terminally ill or lose the ability to make decisions around medical treatment yourself. A further 6 per cent said they had made a living will, now more commonly called an advance decision, during lockdown.

Neil Jones, tax and estate planning specialist, Canada Life says: “Wills and estate planning more broadly is a sensitive subject for households across the UK, and is often thought of as a bit of a taboo subject. However, the global pandemic has focused minds and given us space to think. And it seems that it’s prompted some people to take action, from making changes to existing wills to encouraging them to think about writing one for the first time. While no one likes to think about their own mortality, getting your house in order by having the right legal instructions can take away much of the emotional and financial pressure at a very difficult time.

“Putting a will and other legal instructions in place needn’t be expensive or difficult to do, and there are a whole range of services and support available. Taking the first step is always the most difficult but puts you as the benefactor in the driving seat. A will can not only provide peace of mind that the correct beneficiaries benefit from any estate distribution, but that it is also done as efficiently as possible.”

The Ministry of Justice announced on the 25 July that they were easing the requirements regarding witnessing a will. Normally this has to be done by two people who are present when the will is signing but this has caused some difficultly given the lockdown. As a temporary measure the MoJ has legalised the remote witnessing of a will. Legislation is due in September to backdate this to January 2020 with the intention of leaving it in place until, at least, January 2022.

This will make completing a will easier in these difficult times. 

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