will ownership

Will ownership stagnates as apathy reigns supreme

New research has revealed that will ownership in the UK has stagnated over the past three years with consumer apathy remaining a key reason for the lack of take-up.

According to consumer research from IRN Legal Reports within the wills and probate market in November 2022, 35% of the adult population – or roughly 18.6 million – have made a will. This is the same level as 2019 and one percentage point less than the 36% ownership seen in 2020.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research suggested adults increasingly consider making a will as they grow older. 61% of adults aged 65+ report having a will and 43% of those aged between 55 and 64. Below 55, will ownership dips dramatically to 31% in the 45 to 54 age band and eventually slipping to just 8% in the 18 to 24 group. Regionally, will ownership is highest in the South West.

Of those with a will, one in 10 wrote it within the last 12 months, meaning some 1.86 million wills were created within the last year. Encouragingly, a higher percentage of young people wrote a will within the last year compared with the survey average – 18% of 18-24-year-olds, 19% of 25-34-year-olds, and 17% of 35-44-year-olds.

Why are people not writing a will?

The most common reason for not writing a will is that the respondent has “just not got round to it yet”, with 45% citing this reason, though this is the lowest number of people that have cited this reason within the previous four surveys.

Tied for second with 21% was the respondent feeling they are too young to make a will and the respondent feeling they have no assets to pass on when they die.

This is followed by “I know that I need to make a will and will do so in the next few months,” with 16%. Interestingly, just 9% said the cost was prohibitive – down from 13% in 2019 despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.

9% said they thought their assets would pass to their nearest relative by default upon their death so did not make a will. 7% said they had no dependents or other persons to pass assets onto so did not see the need for a will. 4% said they didn’t understand the purpose of a will to help their situation. 5% did not know why they had no will.

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