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58% of Britons Don't Have a Will - Are you One of Them?

58% of UK adults don’t have a Will, according to new research.

Nearly 29 million Britons have not put down their end of life wishes in a Will and 11% believe that their estate will automatically go to the right people when they pass away.  However, this is not necessarily the case.  Assets of those dying without a Will are to be distributed under the intestacy rules, which could leave stepchildren or unmarried partners out of the equation.

A total of 64% of people aged 35 to 54 have not prepared a Will yet, while almost a third (32%) of those over 55 have no Will.  Of the 55-plus age group, 8% said they had no Will in place because of superstitious beliefs that writing a Will was equal to "tempting fate".  Delaying the decision for the time they "get older" was the main reason for 30% of the respondents not having a Will.

Many (42%) have not considered the impact of Inheritance Tax on their estate and 11% were not aware of such a consideration.

Despite this poor planning, 74% said they would like to leave money (£45,000 on average) to their loved ones, while 65% would like to pass on property (with an average value of £199,000) and 56% want to bequeath personal chattels such as paintings and jewellery.

Children and grandchildren remain the key beneficiaries with 36% of the respondents saying they wanted to pass enough money to their children and grandchildren to support them through university, increase their savings or fund other aspect of their future.  A total of 8% want to donate significant funds to charities and 7% would like to ensure their pets are taken care of after they are gone.

Writing a valid Will is principally the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your loved ones provided for after your death.  Therefore, if you are part of the 58% that don’t have a Will, it is advisable to have a think about what impact this may have on your family when you are gone.  Similarly, if you already have a will, it is important to keep it updated if your circumstances change; for example if you get married, buy a property, have children, are separated or get divorced, this change should be reflected in your Will or you may run the risk of it being invalid.