Pound sterling on table

UK population ‘gambling with £5.5tn inheritance’

Over half of the UK is “gambling with inheritance” through not having in a will in place, new research has revealed.

According to Quilter, 57% of people are without a will, leaving their family finances open to challenge when they pass away.

Of those that do have a will, the majority (53%) have not updated it within the last five years, with a further 14% never having updated it at all. 16% of over-55s have never updated their wishes.

Meanwhile, one in four of those with financial concern for others (25%) said they would be willing to contest someone else’s will if they felt the estate hadn’t been divided fairly, highlighting the need to have an inheritance plan well established and communicated with family.

According to Kings Court Trust, £5.5 trillion will be passed between generations in the next 30 years. Quilter is warning those who do not have a will or have not updated it in the last 10 years to put one in place to ensure inheritance is passed on in accordance with their wishes.

This comes as the research also showed that when gifting money, an important aspect was ensuring the right people in the family receive the money, with three quarters (73%) citing this as important. Ensuring recipients save tax was another key aspect, with just over half of respondents (55%) stating this is important.

The research also found that 45% of people have never or won’t speak about pension death benefit nomination, lasting power of attorney or a trust with their family, again leaving their wishes undetermined.

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, said many are “simply hoping for the best” when it comes to inheritance, despite “everyone [having] desires for what happens to their money and possessions when they pass away”. Not recording these wishes will leave an estate up for challenge and could delay the grieving process for family members, said Griffin, adding:

“Encouraging conversations about money and inheritance between family members is the major theme that has emerged from this research. The vast majority see the right family members receiving the money as an important aspect of gifting. However, failing to talk about your estate and your wishes with those family members is just adding a layer of risk on to your inheritance.

It is also important to remember that while a will is a fantastic way of recording your wishes, you must not forget things like pension death benefit nominations and lasting power of attorney. These are also crucial elements in ensuring your affairs are managed in the way that you want them to be following loss of any capabilities or death.

Having these discussions with family and ensuring documents are kept up to date will ensure that vast sums of money that are due to flow through the generations will do so in the intended way.”

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