Half of UK adults don’t have a Will 

by | Apr 2, 2023

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New research from Canada Life has found that one in two (50%) UK adults don’t have a Will. Perhaps surprisingly, a third of over 55s say they do not have a Will. The region with the highest proportion of people who don’t have a Will was Scotland (64%).  

The top five reasons for not having a Will are: the belief that they do not have enough assets or wealth to warrant making a Will (24%); the belief that loved ones will automatically inherit their wealth regardless (17%); not being able to afford to make one (15%); the belief that they have plenty of time to make one (15%); not knowing how to write a Will (14%). Interestingly, one in seven (13%) do not want to think or talk about death – landing outside of the top five reasons.  

Over a quarter (28%) of all UK adults, both with and without Wills said that leaving loved ones with lots of paperwork worries them when it comes to not having a Will. Closely following this was the concern that their estate won’t be divided up as they would like (26%). However, two in five (41%) said nothing worries them about not having a Will.

Half of Brits have never talked about making a Will either (51%). Of those who have discussed making a Will, partners or spouses were the most common option (59%) with children coming in second (33%). Around one in six (17%) have discussed making a Will with a solicitor, but less than one in ten (7%) have discussed making a Will with a financial adviser. 


Stacey Love, Technical Manager – Tax, Trusts and Estate Planning, Canada Life says

“It’s a shame that people still believe that making a Will is a challenging process. At any age, dying without a valid Will in place can be a huge burden on your loved ones at a time when they may already be vulnerable and struggling to cope. 

“Even if you are young, getting a Will drafted, signed, and witnessed should be on your bucket list, even if you don’t think you have any real wealth to pass on. Digital assets such as social media accounts and crypto have value – data is the new gold after all. 


“Once you’ve completed your Will, don’t just sit back and forget about it.  Talk to your family, let them know where it is being kept.  Also make sure to review it every couple of years – family circumstances change over time, and you need to make sure your Will evolves too.

“It’s human nature that we don’t want to think about death but writing a Will can be a huge weight off yours and your loved one’s shoulders. Don’t be afraid of having an open conversation about it with those you want to leave an inheritance to. A professional financial or legal adviser will also be invaluable for offering independent advice and guidance.” 

Additional estate planning pointers to remember: 

  • The assumption that everything will automatically pass to your loved ones is inaccurate, although the intestacy process (when you die without a valid Will) varies across Scotland from England and Wales.
  • Many couples forget that under the current succession laws in England and Wales a cohabitee has no automatic rights under the intestacy rules so a valid Will is essential to make sure assets pass to the surviving partner as you would want them to.
  • If you’re a single parent with small children, a Will is also an invaluable tool for ensuring that those children are taken care of by the people you trust to look after them.  Without these provisions in a Will, it’s possible the Courts may decide who should have parental responsibility.
  • Many charities offer a “free” Will service (although that usually comes with an expectation of leaving a legacy to the charity). Some retailers also sell “Will packs” which enable you to do it yourself – but you still need to get the document witnessed when you sign it. Finally, most solicitor’s firms offer low fee deals on their will drafting services and your employer may offer a third-party Will service for their employees.

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