Nearly half of homeowners lack a valid will
A new report into homeowners and estate planning has found that almost half of homeowners do not have a valid will in place.
The report, which was carried out by Royal London, surveyed 2,006 nationally representative UK adults in October last year. It has revealed some shocking statistics in relation to homeowners and their estate.
Dying without a valid will in place can throw up many complicated issues for those who are left to deal with the estate, and this is particularly true if there is a house involved.
The report showed that the most common reason for not writing a will among homeowners was a lack of awareness. The figures show that many have a common misconception that their property will be automatically passed on to their partner or children when they die, but, as we will explain, this is not always the case.
The figures from the report
The report has thrown up some interesting findings. Below are a few of the key figures out of the 2,006 surveyed:
- 44% of homeowners do not have a valid will in place
- One in five said they didn’t have a will because they have nothing of value to pass on;
- However, 16% of that one in five own a property
- 16% of those over the age of 55, who also own a property, had failed to make a will
- 43% have already made a will, but had not updated it since buying a property
- 24% said that deciding who to appoint as an executor and trustee was the hardest part of writing a will
- 20% said that the hardest decision was who would benefit from the will
What happens if I die without a valid will?
Put simply, the only way to ensure you are passing on your estate (including your home) to the intended party is by writing a watertight will. If you die without a will, you will not only be putting your family through unnecessary stress, but they may also miss out on any inheritance.
Dying without a will means strict inheritance laws determine who is entitled to what. These are the intestacy rules, and they do not account for the modern family.
The rules of intestacy follow a hierarchy of who should benefit from your estate, and it is not always what you may wish for.
The order of intestacy is as follows:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Brothers and sisters
- Uncles and aunts
No two families are the same, and you may wish your assets to be distributed in a different manner. The court will decide how to apply these rules to your estate, leaving your family’s fate in the hands of the court.
In addition to this, unmarried partners (sometimes incorrectly called “common-law” partners) do not inherit any of the estate if their partner dies. This also applies to step-children and foster children.
Commenting on the report, Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson at Royal London said:
It is surprising that some people don’t think their home is worth including in their Will.
Writing a Will seems to be seen as an admin task that never makes it to the top of the “to-do” list.
It is worth making it a priority as having a Will in place could help avoid any unnecessary distress at an already difficult time for loved ones.
Do I need to update my will?
There are many events that occur throughout our lives that can affect our will. If any of these events take place and a will is not updated, the document will not be current and it will not reflect an individual’s last request accurately.
It is generally good practise to regularly check your will for any updates, regardless of your situation changing drastically. However, if any of the following life events happen it is hugely important to update your will:
- Following a birth – children and grandchildren
- Following a marriage* or divorce
- Moving house
- Changes to the executor
- Changes in finances
- The death of a family member
For the 43% who have already made a will, but have not updated it since moving, a will must have an up to date address on it or it could be deemed invalid.
How can Percy Hughes & Roberts help?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts, we understand the importance of having an up-to-date will to avoid all of the headaches that your family may be put through after your death.
We have a team of expert will writing solicitors who are ready to help you start writing your will to combat any of these unwanted consequences.
If you need assistance with probate, writing a will, making a change to a will, or simply want general advice, our Wirral Wills solicitors have a wealth of experience.
* Marriage will revoke a will
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
To speak to a wills and probate solicitor for advice, contact Percy Hughes & Roberts for a no-obligation phone consultation today. We provide ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.