Making a Will

Three in five UK adults have not made provision

It’s important to make sure that after you die, your assets and possessions go to the people and organisations you choose, such as family members and charities you want to support.

Wills and Inheritance Tax planning more broadly are sensitive subjects for households across the UK and are often thought of as slightly taboo topics. However, the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has focused minds and given us space to think.

And it seems that it’s prompted more people to take action, from making changes to existing Wills to encouraging them to think about writing one for the first time. But worryingly, three in five (59%) UK adults have not written a Will, new research[1] 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. Of those who have not written a Will yet, 22% are over the age of 75 and 39% are aged 65-74. Worryingly, a third (32%) of those aged 75+ haven’t even started thinking about writing a Will yet.

Started thinking about writing a Will
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%) of 25-34-year-olds started thinking about writing a Will for the first time and one in ten (12%) wrote one. A further 30% updated an existing Will.

Respondents were also asked if they had a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place yet, finding that just 12% of UK adults had an LPA in place before the COVID-19 lockdown. However, 6% said they had engaged a legal professional or the Office of the Public Guardian during the pandemic to put an LPA in place.

Types of Lasting Power of Attorney

Health and Welfare LPAs
A Health and Welfare LPA allows you to appoint an Attorney to make decisions about matters such as:

  • Your medical care
  • Where you live
  • Your daily routine, such as what you eat and what you wear
  • Whom you have contact with
  • Whether you have life-sustaining treatment – although only if you have given express permission

Property and Financial Affairs LPAs
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA gives your Attorney the power to do things such as:

  • Buy and sell your property
  • Pay your bills
  • Collect your pension or benefits
  • Manage your bank accounts

Emotional and financial pressure
A Will can provide peace of mind that not only will the correct beneficiaries benefit from any estate distribution, but also that it is done as efficiently as possible. But only 13% 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% said they had made a living Will, now more commonly called an ‘advance decision.’

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. Taking the first step is always the most difficult but puts you as the benefactor in the driving seat.

Especially important if you have children
A Will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind. Writing a Will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.

If you die without a valid Will, you will be dying intestate and your estate will pass to those entitled under the intestacy rules. Under the intestacy rules, your estate could pass to unintended beneficiaries and leave your loved ones in a very difficult situation at an already emotionally challenging time.

Source data:
[1] Research from Canada Life 25/09/20