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Hunters Law
21st April 2023

Where there’s a Will…

Where there’s a Will…
Daniel Watson
Daniel Watson
Senior Associate

The National Will Register yesterday published 'The National Wills Report', which examines public attitudes towards making a Will and related succession planning matters. 

Some figures are particularly worth highlighting:

  1. (Only) 44% of UK adults have made a will. 
  2. While 66% of those aged over 55 have made a Will, only 30% of people under 55 have done so. 
  3. 50% of men state that they have made a Will, while only 39% of women have done so. 
  4. Of those who have not yet made a Will, 39% say that they have simply not yet got round to it. 

Clearly, there are vast numbers of adults who have not yet made a Will (known as being 'intestate'). And clearly, there are large numbers of individuals who intend to make a Will, but who have not yet done so. 

For individuals who die without a Will in place, their assets would pass under what are known as the rules of intestacy. These statutory rules set out precise categories of relatives who will inherit someone's estate on their death, depending on the family circumstances. 

In many cases, the intestacy rules are unlikely to be aligned with how someone would have wanted their estate to pass if they had made a Will. 

There are numerous reasons why it is important to make a will, including: 

  • Choosing who will be responsible for administering your estate (your 'executors')
  • Ensuring that your assets will pass to those whom you intend should inherit
  • Providing for different beneficiaries in blended family situations
  • Making the most suitable provision for minor, dependent or vulnerable beneficiaries, such as by leaving assets on trust for their benefit
  • Setting out whom you would like to take care of any minor children (by including a guardianship clause)
  • Mitigating the possibility of disputes arising after your death; and
  • Ensuring that all relevant tax planning considerations can be taken into account in the structure of your Will. 

The National Wills Report notes that over two-thirds of those who have made a Will used a professional to do so. As the Report states:

"The advantages and importance of using a professional to write and store wills is appreciated particularly among older age groups when estate concerns grow larger."

Another important statistic from the Report was that over 40% of respondents have not discussed what will happen after their death with their loved ones. 

While such conversations can be difficult, it is invariably better to discuss such topics sooner rather than later, to mitigate any unnecessary stress (and potential family fallouts). Such discussions can also ensure that, after death, someone's affairs can be dealt with as efficiently and smoothly as possible, at what is an already difficult time. 

Clearly, more can be done to highlight both the importance of making a Will, and the importance of discussing, before the event, what will happen after someone's death. Both aspects can make dealing with an upsetting event more straightforward than it otherwise would be.