Most people know why it’s important to make a will but new research has shown that the majority of Britons don’t have one.
Figures released by Standard Life show that a staggering 60% of us don’t have a will in place.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the research showed that older generations had undertaken more estate planning than younger people. However, despite this around 25% of people aged 65 or over still don’t have a will in place.
The survey found that the main reason given for not making a will was ‘idleness’.
Not making a will has several consequences.
Firstly your estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy, which may or may not mirror your actual wishes.
For example if you are married you might assume that all your assets go to your spouse on your death, however that is not necessarily the case. In England & Wales only the first £250,000 of your estate will go to your spouse with the balance split between your spouse and your children.
Secondly not making a will can lead to delays in your estate being distributed on your death.
Thirdly you lose out on tax planning opportunities which might help to reduce the Inheritance Tax paid by your beneficiaries.
Julie Hutchison, Head of Technical Insight at Standard Life, said: “The reality is if you were to die without a will the emotional strain on your family, friends and loved ones could far outweigh the time and money spent in sorting your will out in advance.”
How to make a will
There are a number of ways to make a will including the DIY approach using a will kit, using a will writer or a Solicitor.
However, legal experts recommend that a will should be written by a regulated Solicitor rather than an unregulated will writer.
It is also important to review your will from time to time, especially if you have had a major change in circumstances, for example marriage, the birth of a child or a significant change in the size of your estate.