Fewer people in the UK have Wills in place than last year, with nearly four in ten over 55s having no Will at all

26 Sep 2016

Fewer people in the UK have Wills in place than last year, with nearly four in ten over 55s having no Will at all

  • Over half (59 per cent) of UK adults have not written a will
  • 36% of over 55s have no Will in place, up from 30% without a Will in 2015
  • The North West and London have the lowest numbers of people writing wills
  • Nearly a fifth (16 per cent) think they are not wealthy enough to need a will
  • Yet the average homeowner has over £214,000 worth of property alone to bequeath to loved ones, up from £205,000 in 2015 and £182,000 in 2014
  • People can find a solicitor on unbiased.co.uk to help them write their will


Prudential and Unbiased.co.uk, the site that connects millions to advice, today launch the eighth annual  ‘Write a Will Week’, with new research* which reveals  that 59 per cent of UK adults have not made a will.  When a Will is not in place, a deceased person’s estate is subject to intestacy laws, which may not reflect their final wishes.  Write a Will Week is part of the annual Tax Action campaign, which revealed that £4.6billion was die to be paid in unnecessary tax in 2016, including £595million in Inheritance Tax, some of which can be avoided through proper financial planning.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the younger generation who are least prepared, with only 17% of those aged 18-34 having a Will in place and only 29% of those aged 35-54.  Older people are more prepared, yet still 36% of people aged over 55 do not have a Will and risk dying intestate.

Table 1: showing the percentage of UK adults without a will in 2016



Without a will








Regional differences

Adults living in the North West (67%) and London (64%) are the least likely to have made no arrangements at all, followed by York & Humber and Scotland (both 63% with no Will).  Adults living in the North East are the most prepared, with 46% of adults having a Will in place, followed by those in the South West (45%). 

Table 2: showing top ten major cities by percentage of UK adults without a will


Without a will
























Why no will?

The most common reason people gave for not yet having a will was simply that they are putting it off until they are older (23 per cent), but 16% said they didn’t think they would have enough left to be worth passing on when they die. Other reasons for not having a Will in place include it never having occurred to them (13%) and assuming that their estate will automatically go to the right person when they die (11%).

When it comes to what people expect to leave, property estimations have gone up over the last two years (from an anticipated average of £182,000 in 2014 to £214,530 in 2016), but businesses to be left have decreased in value (from £83,00 in 2014 to £75,130 in 2016 – although in 2015 estimations of business value were significantly higher at £110,000).  Similarly, tangible assets that people expect to leave behind after they die (such as art, jewellery, family heirlooms etc) were estimated at £23,000 in 2015, but have fallen to £18,200 this year.


Karen Barrett, chief executive or unbiased.co.uk, comments:Overall, fewer people have a Will in place this year than in previous years.  When we look at the breakdown of what people expect to leave – which in the majority of cases is property – this drop in Will-making is a concern.  Property prices have gone up over the last year, and we can see from this data that the anticipated property value that people expect to leave behind has increased.  It’s worrying that despite this people are still not taking steps to ensure their final wishes are adhered to. 

“Similarly, as property values have gone up, tangible assets and business values have gone down.  We’ve had a turbulent year in terms of the economy, and this goes some way to explain why people may be less keen to officially get their last wishes down on paper, but if anything uncertain times should be an impetus to act, and a financial adviser is best placed to help you make the decisions and get the legal documents in place to protect your loved ones and your estate when you die.  It’s not a risk worth taking when you consider how stressful a death in the family can be.”


Les Cameron, tax specialist at Prudential, said: “Whether you have a will in place or not is one of the things that will be at the forefront of any financial planner’s mind. It’s important to have an up-to-date will to ensure that your estate passes to those you want it to, as tax efficiently as possible, when you die.  Trusts are often created in wills to control an estate beyond death, perhaps due to complicated family circumstances or when considering the financial position of the beneficiaries. Making a will can range from being a fairly simple to a very complex area of financial planning and an adviser can work together with a solicitor to make sure you have the right will in place for your personal circumstances.”    

To find a local solicitor or financial adviser to help organise your will, go to www.unbiased.co.uk and enter your postcode.

For more information go to Write a Will Week.




Notes to editors:

*unbiased.co.uk research conducted by Opinium Research between 19 to 23 August 2016, among 2,000 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+.

1TaxAction report 2016 has been produced by Opinium Research on behalf of unbiased.co.uk. All figures are based on calculations done on unrounded values to guarantee accuracy; text paragraphs display rounded figures. Survey results come from an Opinium online survey, commissioned by unbiased.co.uk, of 2,000 UK adults aged 18+ carried out between 19th to 23rd August 2016.  Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

22015 TaxAction Research can be found here.

For more information contact:

Freddie Saunders, Lansons: 020 7294 3693 or email on [email protected].

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