As we enter Free Wills Month – a charity-backed campaign designed to encourage over 55s to have a will written or updated free of charge – Research from wealth manager Brewin Dolphin finds that 32% of over 55s don’t have a will. Across the age groups however, men are more likely to have a will (50%) than women (41%)1.
Adrian Watson, Regional Manager of Financial Planning at Brewin Dolphin in Wales & South West commented:
“While it’s great to see some people have an up-to-date and valid will, it’s worrying that four in 10 people don’t have this important document in place.
“Getting your affairs in order and planning what you want to pass on to loved ones, whether it’s while you’re alive or after you’ve passed away, is really important. Not only does it mean that your wishes can be carried out but it can also help reduce the emotional and financial burden on loved ones at an already difficult time. We all lead such busy lives that it can be easy to put off estate planning but it’s best to take care of this sooner rather than later.”
The poll of more than 4,000 UK adults shows that parents (55%) are more than twice as likely to have a will in place as those without children (27%). While people aged over 55 are the most likely to have a will (68%), more than a quarter (26%) of 18 to 34-year-olds have their wishes officially documented.
Londoners are the most likely to have an up-to-date will (52%), whereas people in the North West are the least likely to have this important document in place (38%).
Adrian Watson continued:
“Making or updating a will provides the perfect time to talk to your family about inheritance matters. For instance, you can talk about the items you might like to pass on to them, as well as what they might spend an inheritance on. When people have these conversations they often discover that they can help their loved ones financially now, rather waiting until they’ve passed away. As well as being able to see loved ones benefit from some money, this can also help from an inheritance tax perspective.”
Brewin Dolphin offers people the following tips regarding wills:
- It’s not just about wealth. Some people may not think they need a will because they don’t have very much money in the bank or because they don’t feel old, but this isn’t necessarily the case. You need to think about who you want to pass your belongings on to, such as jewellery, car, home and even your pets. It’s important to put this information down in writing so your family and friends can honour your wishes once you’ve passed away.
- Don’t assume who will benefit. If someone dies in the UK without a valid will, their property is shared out according to rules of intestacy, which means your estate can only be inherited by close family (spouse/civil partner, siblings, children, parents and aunts/uncles). So, unless you have a will, intestacy rules could force an outcome that is completely contrary to your wishes. For example: unmarried partners have no inheritance rights whatsoever under the intestacy rules. Unless you make provision for them in a will, they will inherit nothing, even if you have lived together all your life.
- Beware the revoking rule. Wills are revoked when you marry, unless the will was written in anticipation of the impending event, so even if you have written a will to include your spouse or civil partner-to-be before your marriage, you’ll need to renew it afterwards. This is also important if you have children from a previous marriage: although your new spouse would benefit from your estate through the intestacy rules, your children might not. You may also want to write a will or redraft your existing one if you are in the process of separating from or divorcing your partner, because if you die before your divorce is complete, your spouse or civil partner can still inherit your estate.