A new report from The National Will Register has found that 42% of adults in the UK have not spoken to anyone about what should happen to their estate upon their passing.
Even among over 55s, three in ten have not spoken to anyone on the subject and half of those are unlikely to in the future – a figure that grows to 58% across all age groups. Mainly because it is too morbid (25%; 13% among over 55s), or there is a lack of concern for what happens after death (16%; 19% among over 55s).
There is a generational improvement on these figures, with 49% of respondents’ parents not discussing any instructions or details of a will. Only a third of parents (34%) had told them where to find a will.
The report also found that 44% of UK adults had made a will, with men more likely to have made a will (50% of men; 39% of women) and more likely to discuss their estate with loved ones (62% of men; 55% of women).
For those who have not made a will, two in five said that they had not got around to making one yet, while almost a third felt they did not have enough to warrant making a will. One in ten felt their estate was too simple to need a will, and another one in ten said they did not know how to make a will.
While less than half have made a will, 76% said they keep their important documents together in what could be considered as a “life folder”, and 72% have told someone where they can find it. These folders often contain bank account details (76%) and any deeds or contracts (50%) or even internet passwords (42%) before details of a will (33%).
The National Will Register commissioned The National Will Report to better understand the way that will writing and estate planning is undertaken and perceived by the UK public. Independent research body Research Without Barriers asked 1,004 UK adults questions regarding will writing and estate planning.
The National Will Register is the provider of will registration and will search services in the UK, with over 10 million wills in the system, and exists to ensure no will is left unknown or untraced at the time it is needed. In 2021 became part of Advanced, a leading provider of solutions for the legal market.
Doug Hargrove, the Managing Director of Legal and Education at Advanced, drew attention to what the stats mean when someone passes:
“What these statistics show is that in most cases throughout the UK, there is a high level of uncertainty when it comes to handling someone’s affairs after they pass. Whether this be knowing if there is a will, or any instructions beyond being able to have access to bank details and other contracts in a safe place.
Through our own Will search data, we know that a fifth of searches find a will that impacts estate administration. This report highlights that double that number would be unaware of a will’s existence and only a quarter of adults would leave a will or details of a will in a life folder for someone to find.
In order to have certainty in the future, we call on people to write and register a will so that their wishes can be known and found easily through a will search, reducing the need to bring up matters if they seem too morbid to discuss with loved ones, but providing protections for their wishes, and so loved ones have the certainty they need to move forward with confidence.”