Wills and Probate

Ben TobinYouGov PR Manager
January 20, 2014, 11:53 AM GMT+0

Securing the future: Less than half have a will.

Fewer than half (41%) of all adults say that they currently have a will. However that number does rise significantly after the age of 55; almost three quarters of that group do have one (71%). Only two in five (42%) of 45 to 54 year olds have a will.

For those who haven’t made a will, over half (53%) say they have not got round to it, while 11% say they know they need to, and that they will get round to it. This shows an area where companies can attract new clients. A significant majority (68%), say that they are too young to make a will, and 20% say they have no assets to pass on.

A change in health is a prompt to make a will for 38% of respondents. Financial reasons are the motivation for 23%. Over half say getting married (52%) and having children (52%) are the key motivators. The loss of a loved one leads to a decision for 27%. Separation (62%) is the main reason a person would choose to change the contents of their will.

Over half (55%) say the reason they make a will, regardless of what has prompted them to, is to ensure their estate is distributed in the way they intend. Half (50%) say it is to secure the future of their family.

The will-writing market in Britain has an estimated value of between £700 million and £900 million. Figures from The Probate Service show that almost 250,000 families go through probate court every year. 63% of those with a will say they used a law firm of solicitors, compared with 12% who completed the will entirely themselves.

While 52% believe that law firms and solicitors are the best qualified to prepare a will, the same percentage would be willing to try and prepare an online will themselves if it meant the costs could be kept down.

In May 2013, the Lord Chancellor decided not to regulate the will writing market. When consumers are asked about the decision, half say they have concerns that it will make it difficult for them to choose a quality provider over a poor one. 39% do agree that it will bring more consumer choice into the market.

Inheritance tax is due when the value of a person’s estate reaches £325,000 or more. Consumer knowledge regarding the specifics of this tax is patchy at best. 28% know exactly what the threshold is, while a quarter (25%) have no idea, and 315 say the threshold is at too low a level. 20% know the rate of tax is 40% but 41% do not know.

Knowledge about the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ (when there is no will or a void will) is lower still. 1 in ten (10%) of adults know what they are and how they work. Over a third (34%) have never heard of them.

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