Startling figures have revealed the attitudes of the over 55 age group towards writing a Will. The figures indicate a widespread ignorance of the importance of writing a Will and the risks of dying intestate.
Out of those who have not written a Will:
• 12% have children in their household
• 16% are separated or divorced
• 48% admit they 'haven't got round' to writing one
• 18% feel that they don't have anything of value to leave behind
• 34% were unaware that unmarried partners (regardless of length of relationship) are not entitled to anything in the event of a partner’s death
• 21% were unaware that if a person is separated from their spouse, but not divorced, they are still entitled to most (if not all) of the estate
• 60% were unaware that recipients of an intestate estate may have to pay more Inheritance Tax than if a Will was in place
• 88% believe that their assets would not be left to the right person under intestacy rules
These figures reveal that many people are unaware of the consequences of not writing a Will. If someone dies without a valid Will in place, intestacy rules dictate how their money, property or possessions should be distributed.
These legal regulations will divide the estate in a pre-determined way and, even if the person is married, in a civil-partnership or have step-children, assets may not automatically be distributed to the family members that expect to inherit them. If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown.
The figures released in this report are startling and show that many people are woefully unaware of the rules of intestacy and what this could mean for their estate.
People may assume that a Will is only beneficial for those in later life or not in good health. However, regardless of your personal circumstances it is important to plan ahead, particularly if you own a property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or own a business. There are also numerous benefits to having a Will, from ensuring you leave an inheritance to family and friends, to potentially reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax that may be payable on your estate.
We always advise members of the public to have their Will written by an experienced professional. By ensuring that your Will is clearly and professionally written, your estate can be dealt with in line with your wishes as smoothly as possible. Ensuring that your wishes are clearly articulated reduces the likelihood of disagreements between beneficiaries which can delay the distribution of the estate and cause great stress to the family members at an already difficult time.