Less than half of UK adults have a Will

A new report has revealed that less than half of adults in the UK have formalised their final wishes by writing a Will.  

This is according to Kings Court Trust which has published its second annual report on the Will Writing industry this year. Whilst providing a general overview of the sector, the specific focus is on changing family structures and what the implications could be for Will writing services. 

The key points are summarised below: 

  • 45% of the adult population in Great Britain (GB) have a Will, an increase of 6% from last year when the figure stood at 39%. The proportion of people who have a Will increases with age, as young people are less likely to have a Will than their older counterparts. 75% of GB adults aged 55+ have a Will, compared to 24% of adults under the age of 35.  
  • Changes in family circumstances, such as having children do not seem to encourage people to write a Will. Only 26% of GB adults with children aged 4 years and under have a Will. Survey findings show that life events do not prompt a need for a Will and YouGov survey results indicate that it is primarily older adults with children who are more likely to have a Will. 
  • There has been very little change in the methods used to write a Will. For those who do have a Will, using a solicitor is the preferred option (58%), which is then followed by a face-to-face will writing service (13%). When determining what approach to use for making a Will, people are motivated by cost and whether the service is regulated. 
  • Kings Court Trust has commented saying the number of family disputes have increased year on year and YouGov survey shows that one in twenty adults (5%) have had a dispute about a Will. This percentage is broadly the same for all groups. 
  • Of those interviewed the results indicate that people do not understand or don’t have the right information to encourage them to write a Will. The two main things that people are unaware of is the fact that marriage revokes a Will in England and that unmarried partners are not entitled to the assets. Also, several people who wrote a Will before marriage were not aware it revoked their Will when they got married. The survey results indicate that over half of adults who are married or in a civil partnership have a Will (58%), but only 30% of those are adults that are cohabiting. 
  • The law on Wills is most likely to go through some major changes next year which will consider societal and technological advances. This may bring about a change in the law on marriage currently revoking a Will. 
  • The report found that greater levels of transparency were needed to reduce the likelihood of disputes, however, 1 in 5 adults that possess a Will say that the likely beneficiaries are unaware of being included in their Will. 
  • The absence of information or misinformation means that adults are not encouraged to make a Will. The change in family dynamics creates a greater importance on having a Will to address the complexities of individual circumstances. 
  • Findings show that a greater level of information on Will writing needs to be made widely available to the general public and for more stakeholders in the industry to share the responsibility of providing such information. It has also been recognised that there is a lot of uncertainty when discussing Wills, therefore, it is imperative the Will writing industry is trusted and professional. 

In the summer of 2017, the Law Commission launched a public consultation to modify the laws around Will writing. At the end of this year, the Law Commission is expected to issue the outcome of the consultation which may result in fundamental changes to the law on Wills. 

To read more on Kings Court Trust Annual Report click here.

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