Access to legal information tools could encourage more people to start planning for later life sooner, according to new research from Co-op Legal Services.
Recent research shows neglect for later life planning may be changing due to the coronavirus pandemic, following a recent surge in demand for wills. UK Google searches related to wills increased by 40% in mid-March from the previous month.
However, Co-op’s research shows the majority of UK adults (61%) have yet to write their wills, with many waiting until they’re almost 50 to do so. The research finds that the average age for writing a will in the UK is 47, even though on average people are starting families and already have financial dependents in their early 30s.
There are widespread misconceptions about how the law works. For example, many people believe that if their partner dies they will inherit everything, whether married or not. Another false belief is that if a person is unable to make decisions whether temporary or permanent, a spouse can make any and all decisions on their behalf, financial and medical. These common misunderstandings lull people into inertia.
This lack of awareness could be solved by digital tools, both for consumers and IFAs. Over a third (35%) of consumers believe that a free information tool would help them understand the requirements and encourage them to engage with a will writing service.
Similarly, 20% of IFAs also feel they would be able to better serve the needs of clients with access to a digital legal product which would provide information and intelligence on wills.
Caoilionn Hurley, Managing Director of Co-op Legal Services said: “The coronavirus pandemic is clearly focussing people’s minds on planning for later life. It’s now more important than ever that people of all ages understand that writing a will can save both time and immense distress for their loved ones. Anyone with assets can and should have a will, especially those with children or other family who depend on them financially.
“It’s clear that there’s a knowledge gap that needs addressing. To plug this gap, we believe there is an opportunity for digital tools to provide important information and insight to customers, particularly those writing a will for the first time. By providing interactive and engaging tools to arm people with the information they need, we are certain it will encourage them to engage with will writing services and start planning for later life sooner.”