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Brits without a Will in the world

26th April 2011 Print

More than half (51%) of British adults don't have a Will drawn up, according to research by Standard Life.

The research conducted by the long-term savings and investment company reveals that these figures become even more worrying when broken down by age.

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of 35 to 44 year olds don't have a Will in place, two-fifths (38%) of 45 to 54 year olds, a third (32%) of 55 to 64 year olds and amazingly more than a fifth (22%) of over 65's are without a Will.

Standard Life's research reveals more than half (56%) of those without a Will claim they just haven't got round to doing it yet.  This figure increases to 79 per cent for those in the 55 to 64 age bracket and almost a half (45%) for over 65's.  At the same time, the percentage of those who felt it was too expensive to have a Will prepared, or who felt happy to rely on the statutory default rules was very low - averaging under 4%.  

Julie Hutchison, head of estate planning at Standard Life, said: "There is real inertia here.  Despite the potential cost of a Will not being a barrier, as shown in our research, people's lack of action could ultimately cost their families more. The legal fees in untangling estates when someone dies without a Will can be higher and the inheritance tax bill could be higher, not to mention the stress for the family and potential delay in distributing assets.  People spend their lives trying to provide the best they can for loved ones, but they're falling at the final hurdle by not protecting their futures when they're no longer here."

Standard Life's research also shows nearly a third (30%) of those with a Will haven't reviewed it in the last three to 10 years, with one in 10 not having looked at in more than a decade.  

Julie Hutchison continued: "There were significant alterations to the inheritance tax rules in 2006 and 2007. Add to that changing family dynamics, including divorce, more children, and introduction of grandchildren, and old Wills could be seriously out of date. People should ensure they keep a close eye on their Will and speak regularly to their professional adviser to ensure it's up-to-date and reflects changing legislative and personal circumstances.  Dying without a Will in place, or leaving an old out-of-date Will, can cause enormous stress on loved ones. This can be easily avoided by seeking professional advice on estate planning."

Regionally the North of England is the least likely to have a Will (56%), followed by Scotland and the Midlands (both 52%), South East England (47%), with Wales & South West England (46%) the most likely.