Will Writing

Half of Brits put off writing a will says AA Legal Services

1 November 2010

New research from AA Legal Services suggests that half of Brits* (48%) have yet to write a will and a third of them say it's because they are worried about the cost and complexity of doing so – or concern about involving a lawyer.

The findings come as the AA launches a brand-new range of easy-access legal documents, including will writing. They comprise straightforward templates backed by legal advice.

The AA/Populus study* of 18,251 AA members alarmingly revealed that only half (50%) have written a will and that women (46%) are less likely to have done so than men (53%).

Of those who have yet to do so, inertia was the main factor with more than half (56%) saying they just hadn’t got around to it.

More worrying, however, is that more than a quarter (28%), were concerned about the cost of preparing a will (16%) or about having to involve a lawyer (12%) in the process. 6% simply thought that writing a will was 'too complicated'.

Comment

Says Simon Douglas, director of AA Legal Services: "Writing a will is something that many people find difficult to approach.

"Perhaps not unexpectedly the young are least likely to have felt that writing a will is necessary but even many in their fifties have yet to get around to it. Nearly half (48%) of those aged 45-54 and more than a quarter (28%) of 55-65 year-olds don't have a will."

Some people have a problem deciding who their estate should be left to and this becomes much more pronounced amongst older people. Overall this was cited as a reason for not writing a will by 4%, but this more than doubles to 9% of those aged over 65.

A fifth (19%) say it's not worth writing a will because they don't have much to leave.

"It's clear that people who haven't made a will come up with all sorts of excuses why not – it always seems to be something that can be put off to another day," Douglas says. "But neglecting it until it really is too late leaves distressing problems for those who are left. It can take months to sort out the estate of those who have died intestate."

He added that 13% believed they didn't need a will because they wanted everything to go to their partner, a belief particularly marked amongst men (16%). "If they realise the difficulties they'll leave for their loved ones, perhaps they'd think again," he says.

"It's certainly not a foregone conclusion that your estate will go to your partner, especially if you have surviving relatives who are likely to get a share. And if you live with someone outside of marriage or a civil partnership, your partner may get nothing at all. In extreme cases, your estate could even go to the Crown!"

Douglas says that the new service de-mystifies the process of making a will. "It couldn't be more straightforward or cost-effective – and it will be free to Home Insurance customers with home legal expense cover," he points out. "No-one should delay deciding who inherits their estate rather than leave it to a court to decide after their death."

* Populus received 18,251 responses to its online poll of AA members between 15th and 23rd October. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council.

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1 November 2010