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The majority of UK under 65s have not written a legal will

Date Published: Wednesday 18th June 2014

Our new infographic showing which UK demographics do and don't have legal wills is not all as it appears at first glance. It throws up one or two surprises too.

Less than 40% of people in the UK have a will - a statistic only made more shocking when you take into account that less than 25% of people aged under 25 have one. This sounds incredibly simple and easy to disregard but the facts are that it's costing us a fortune and, for families left trying to pick things apart, a huge amount of time.

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Wills in the UK - Taylor Rose Online

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PARENTS WRITING WILLS

At first glance it would appear that parents are more likely to write wills, with the infographic showing nearly three quarters (72.37%) of parents having written one. It's tempting to think "well done parents", and it's easy to think this indicates that non-parents are the ones who need to be educated and encouraged to make more of an effort. While non-parents do indeed need to narrow the gap between them and their parent counterparts, it is hard to imagine they will ever match parents for will-making due to the fact that children usually do need such security more than friends and other relatives, and having children does set off some sort of responsibility hormone in the brain of parents. It is not this simple, however, and when you delve it little deeper it starts to become apparent that parents could be the ones lagging behind where they should be. One factor, which exposes the complexity of the situation, is age.

GROWING OLD AND WRITING WILLS

It is only within the 65+ year old population that more people have written wills than haven't. The majority of people below the age of 65 years have no legal will. This isn't even because children and young child-less adults as not a single age group under 65 years old contained more people with wills than without. The closest is the 55-64 age group, where 48.9% have written a will. Though becoming a parent seems to have a marked impact on whether you choose to write a will or not, there are no new parents aged 65+. Though we don't have exact figures, if you consider that the children in most need of financial security and guardianship are under the age of 18, and consider it is improbable that many parents will have children under the age of 18 when they turn 65 years old, it becomes clear that actually most parents with children aged under 18 do not have a legal will at all. This puts a whole new spin on things. 

SURPRISING CONCLUSIONS 

We must conclude that growing old and being closer to the natural end of one’s life impacts the statistics more than whether or not you are a parent. This means that though the overall proportion of parents with wills looks good, there are clearly a large proportion of younger parents with dependent children who do not have one. When making a will can be so cheap and simple this is something for which society clearly needs more encouragement and awareness, something that hopefully growth of the internet and its popularity with the younger demographic can help in the future by educating and providing new solutions for will-making.  

 

REASONS PEOPLE ARE NOT MAKING WILLS

              1. Association with Growing Old

It's undeniable that making a legal will is associated with growing old due to its inherent link to death. Many younger people prefer to put off thinking about death and growing old completely. But making a will is not about growing old, since people of all ages die. As a quick example, here in the UK we have a 1 in 200 chance of being killed in a road traffic accident1, and 5 people die on the road in the UK each day on average2. This doesn't sound too scary, but the odds as a young driver are several times higher. Road traffic accidents are by no means the biggest cause of death as a young person, and both disease and accidents can occur at any age. Making a legal will can be very fast, simple and cheap. So, although nobody likes to think about death and we all believe we'll live forever while young, making a will is usually a bigger psychological issue than a real one. The beauty of making a will is that once it's done, it's done. You may choose to make later revisions, but that's subject to changing circumstances and most simple wills cover the important things at least in the medium-term. So, after you've written your will you can go back to being young and forget about death as much as you like. Sounds good doesn't it.

          2. Negative Connotations

It's probably true to an extent that making a legal will has negative connotations not only due to its association with death, but because it is also one of those milestones, like taking out a pension, which many people seek to defer for as long as possible since they believe that reaching such milestones signifies an end to their youth. Compared to setting up a pension, something that is very important but we won't get into now, making a will is a cinch. A will only has to be setup once unless your circumstances change, whereas with a pension requires more ongoing maintenance and you will be reminded of its existence fairly often, not least because you'll be paying into it each month. For the limited legwork and maintenance that a will takes, it provides a massive amount of security and reassurance to those who set one up, especially those with dependents.

          3. Perceived Lack of Need

There is a definite perceived sense of wills being something one only needs later in life. As mentioned above, accidents and diseases can strike at any time so it is better to have one in place so you can get out there and live your life with peace of mind. If you're someone who wants to, you can also stipulate funeral preferences and whether you'd prefer to be buried or cremated. Leaving this up to family to decide can be a stressful experience for them, especially as they may have conflicting versions of what you might have wanted. When you are bereaved you have enough to handle grieving, having everything set out makes things so much easier. Another misconception is that those close relatives or wealth don't need to worry about making a will. This is simply not the case, as any amount of personal wealth needs to be directed somewhere it will belong to the government by default. The same goes for possessions, which you may prefer to leave to friends. Even if you have no relatives or friends at all, a will still gives you the opportunity to leave the sum of your estate to a charity of your choice, a cause that you truly believe in that can provide you with some peace of mind.

         4. Perceived-Expense

Legal wills are often assumed to be expensive to setup. Perhaps this is due to the notion that solicitors fees will bankrupt you, which, let's face it, is the case for a lot of the work they do. However wills are different, and because simple wills follow such a straightforward format, it is not even necessary to visit a solicitor to write a will. As you can see from the infographic, the cost of a will can range from £30 for an online legal service, to £150 + VAT for a professional will. Alternatively a DIY will pack can be purchased for £10. It would probably surprise many people who have never written a will before how cheap they can be, and with this range of options and prices available there is little excuse not to go ahead and do one.

Have you got a legal will setup? If not, why not?

 

  1. Source - http://www.racfoundation.org/
  2. Source - http://www.rospa.com/

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