UK’s will-writing ‘black holes’ revealed by research for’s Write A Will Week

12 Oct 2015

  • Over half (58 per cent) of UK adults have not written a will
  • Younger generations most at risk, with three quarters (76 per cent) of people in their thirties currently intestate
  • Brighton, Belfast and Liverpool have the lowest numbers of people writing wills
  • Nearly a fifth (17 per cent) think they are not wealthy enough to need a will
  • Yet the average homeowner has over £200,000 worth of property alone to bequeath to loved ones
  • People can find a solicitor on to help them write their will, the UK’s No.1 adviser search, today launches the seventh ‘Write a Will Week’, with new research* revealing that 58 per cent of UK adults have not made a will, leaving their loved ones facing extra stress and complications at what will already be a difficult time. By not specifying how they want their assets distributed after death, a majority of people will have their estates passed on according to intestacy law, which may not reflect their wishes at all.

Younger people are the least prepared, as nearly three-quarters (76 per cent) of those in their thirties have not made a will, and this continues to be true for 65 per cent of people in their forties. Older people are doing better, yet still over half (59 per cent) of those in their fifties and nearly a third (31 per cent) of those in their sixties are still running the risk of dying intestate.

People over seventy are the most likely to have a will, with only 18 per cent saying they have not made one.

Table 1: showing the percentage of UK adults without a will in 2015



Without a will

20 – 29


30 – 39 


40 – 49


50 – 59


60 – 69


Over 70


Regional differences

Adults living in Brighton are most likely to have made no arrangements at all, with 70 per cent having no will, closely followed by Belfast and Liverpool (each at 69 per cent) and Manchester (67 per cent), creating worrying ‘black holes’ in which a majority may die intestate.

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). This is highest among those under 30 (44 per cent) – yet around one in seven (13 per cent) of people in their sixties say they are still waiting until later in life. Almost a fifth (17 per cent) consider that they have too few assets to make a will necessary.

Nearly a tenth (8 per cent) say they believe their estate will automatically end up with the right individuals. A further 12 per cent admit to never having considered making a will.

Breakdown of assets

Nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of people do not believe they have enough assets to make a will worthwhile. These individuals may not fully appreciate the purpose of a will, as even if their assets fall below the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000, the question of who will inherit the assets is often not straightforward.

Around two thirds (67 per cent) of UK adults expect to leave property behind, with an average value of £204,649. Three quarters (77 per cent) expect to leave money, with an average value of £42,208 (but rising to over £53,000 for respondents in Norwich, Nottingham, Belfast and Bristol). Fifty nine per cent plan to pass on tangible assets such as paintings, jewellery and antiques, with an average value of £17,229.

Putting family first

Unsurprisingly, people cited their families as their highest priority when thinking about what they would leave behind. Priorities included helping their family to live comfortably (23 per cent), adding to children’s savings (19 per cent) and helping children onto the property ladder (16 per cent). Funding higher education was another priority (12 per cent).

Karen Barrett, chief executive or, comments: ‘Our research made two especially interesting findings, which are rather at odds with each other. We confirmed that people really do want to ensure their loved ones are taken care of after they’ve gone – but that most aren’t doing anything about this. Writing a will clearly has significant emotional implications, so it’s likely that people delay doing it through a mixture of denial and simply not getting around to it. But it’s significant that people in their seventies are finally waking up to the necessity of a will – people need to realise that intestacy laws don’t make exceptions if you happen to be younger when you die.

‘People should also remember that it’s simple, inexpensive, and saves families from a significant amount of extra stress. Now that pension freedom has completely rewritten the rule book on what can and cannot be inherited, making your wishes legally binding has never been more essential. And it should go without saying that it’s never too early to start planning.’

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

For more information go to Write a Will Week 2015




Notes to editors:

* research conducted by Opinium Research between 30 September to 2 October 2015, among 2,006 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+.

For more information contact:

Anna Schirmer/ Sarah Tye/Calum MacDougall, Lansons: 020 7294 3682

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