• Edward Richings

Most common reasons why people do not have a Will

Updated: Apr 8

"I don't have the time". "I'm too young". "I don't own anything valuable".

More than half of the UK population still do not have a Will. They know they need one but yet still put it off. From believing it is too much effort to not expecting what is around the corner, this article explores the most common reasons for why people still do not have their own Will, and the grave consequences of doing so.

Ostrich burying its head in the sand in a desert
Don't bury your head in the sand when it comes to your Will

We all hear the phrases “Last Will and Testament” or “Estate Planning” and we immediately switch off.


Why?

We associate it with something that our parents or grandparents need to think about as they approach an older age and they need to plan how best they can leave a legacy for the people and causes that mean most to them.

But the truth is that Wills are not just for the old: they are for everyone. Including you.

Whether you are young or old; wealthy or living off each wage packet; married, single or “in a relationship” (this is a biggie as you’ll see later); living in a nuclear family household or just on your own with your three dogs, a Will is an essential for you.

But just like many things in life, despite how important it is, we still put it off.

We are going to explore the reasons why we do this and the reasons why we should not do this.


The Problem


Around 54% of the UK adult population do not have a Will.

This may not appear to be a surprising amount, even more so, it may not appear to be such a pressing issue.

But your view may change when you see what happens when you do not have a Will.

Without a Will, an individual is said to have died “intestate”.

As such, on death, they lose all control and say over who or what gets their property and belongings.

Instead, their estate is distributed in accordance with a set of rules laid down by law known as the “Intestacy Rules”.

That’s good”, you may think; “the law has already done the job for me and my family will obviously be the ones to benefit”. Wrong.

The fact of the matter is that, no one ever dies intestate, intending the results of the Intestacy Rules.

The following flowchart summarises the way the Intestacy Rules work:


A flowchart showing how the Intestacy Rules operate if you do not have a Will
Intestacy Rules Flowchart

You may note a few things. Firstly, there is no recognition or provision whatsoever for an unmarried cohabiting couple.

Many couples nowadays choose to live together. Maybe for years. They settle down, have kids and own a property where they live happily ever after. Until one of them eventually and unfortunately passes.

They live in the mistaken belief that they will be automatically looked after because everything will pass to them as the “common law husband” or “common law wife”.

No such concept exists in law.

If you’re unmarried and don’t have a Will, you are not protected on either one’s death.

Now, with that in mind, let’s see why you may still not have a Will and why you need to write one now, or update, before it is too late.

It’s a dark topic


Let’s be honest. Talking about planning for your loved ones when you are not here is not a particularly pleasant topic.

But it’s unavoidable.

There are no certainties in this life apart from the fact that, one day, it will end.

Taking that short time now to prepare for this eventuality can save your family and friends huge amounts of stress and distress and provide them, as well as yourself, with the reassurance and confidence that they will be looked after when you are no longer able to.

It’s too much effort

What should I consider? What do I write? How do I sign it?

Many people are put off from writing a Will because they do not know where to start.

In fact, 5.4 million adults in the UK did not know where to begin when it comes to writing a Will.

The truth is that you can write your own Will with your own two hands.

However, as a legal document with legal validity and effects, it is always best to get legal advice to ensure it’s done correctly.

It costs too much

I know what you’re now thinking, “lawyers need to be involved? I don’t have money for that.

But the truth is that you do not need to break the bank to get legal advice.

There are many institutions and organisations offering free legal advice and some solicitor firms providing advice at inflated prices.

We take the middle ground.

We go above and beyond to make sure you understand the document.

We are not like other Will writers or firms where their main aim is to just have your Will written and signed before invoicing you. No.

Our main objective is teaching so you understand what is going on and what will happen to your property.

How do we do this?

Our Advice service is essentially an interactive 1-on-1 seminar to teach you what you need to know to write your Will.

Alternatively, when you ask us to write your Will, we ask to gather as much information as possible before drafting your Will for you.

Once the Will is drafted, we will provide an explanatory email summarising all the clauses in your Will and the effects of each, in plain English.

We. Speak. English.

We don’t speak ‘legalese’ and we don’t use complicated legal jargon. Some may believe that the more technical and complicated something sounds, the more effective it is. We don’t.

Clear. Concise. Correct.