Will they or won’t they?

03 November 2015

Gap in end of life planning - new study reveals 30 million UK adults without a will

  • 60% of UK adults don’t have a will
  • 1 in 4 of those with wills left it until after age 55 to write one
  • 91% of people don’t have a funeral plan

Almost two thirds, (60 percent) of UK adults do not have a will and could be at risk of losing control over their estate if they die, according to a joint study released today by The Co-operative Funeralcare and The Co-operative Legal Services.

When looking in more details at those who made a will, the research shows the average age they first wrote their will was 42.  However the figures also highlight that 1 in 4 left it until after the age of 55, to write their first will.

The findings reveal the most common triggers that prompt people to think about a will with the most common reason being reaching a milestone age (26%). Having a child (19%), the death of relative (17%) and purchasing of a property (16%) are also some of the most cited reasons.

Despite the fact that life events such as marriage, divorce and the death of a spouse can significantly impact the effectiveness of a will, the majority of those with a will (55%) have never updated their wishes. Almost a third of people (29%) admitting they simply just haven’t got round to it

The main events which have promoted people into updating their will include the arrival of children and grandchildren, the reaching of a certain age, and the death of a relative

Most common triggers for will updates:

  1. Arrival of grandchildren 19%
  2. Reach a milestone age 18%
  3. Birth of a child 15%
  4. Death of a relative 13%
  5. Bought a property 11%
  6. Got separated / divorced 9%
  7. Inherited some money 9%
  8. Got remarried 8%
  9. Health scare / issue 5%
  10. Got married for first time 5%

James Antoniou, Head of Wills, for The Co-operative Legal Services comments:

“The research shows a worrying gap in end of life planning, potentially leaving millions of relatives and families facing additional stress and confusion whilst grieving for the loss of a loved one.
“With over 30 million people in the UK yet to write a will, the research suggests that we’re a nation who tend to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to end of life planning."  

“In order to ensure that people’s wishes are clear about who they want to benefit from their estate, it is crucial they take the right advice and put an effective will in place."

“It’s also worrying that over half of people who have wills have never updated them. Depending on the way a will has been drafted, a marriage, a divorce or the death of a spouse can make the will ineffective.”

The findings also reveals that 91 per cent of adults do not have a funeral plan in place. Whilst perhaps not surprising that younger people have not yet considered this, the research highlights that over four fifths (83%) of over 65 year-olds are yet to make any plans for their funeral.

David Collingwood, Director of Operations for The Co-operative Funeralcare comments:

“In our experience many people find opening up and talking to their loved ones about death extremely difficult."

"By putting a funeral plan in place you can make your own decisions and plan your funeral exactly the way you want it rather than haver your family make those decisions on your behalf when the times does come."

“Doing this can take additional stress and financial burden away from your loved ones at an extremely difficult time.”

Notes to Editors

*Independent research amongst 2000 UK adults conducted by ICM in October 2015 on behalf of The Co-operative Funeralcare and The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS).

For further information please contact:
Emily Dalton, Press Officer
0161 7674343 

Lauren Hoult, Press and Media Relations Manager
0161 767 4256

About The Co-operative Funeralcare

With over 900 Funeral Homes across the UK, The Co-operative Funeralcare is the UK’s number one funeral services provider and supports over 90,000 families a year with funeral arrangements. 

The business also supports clients who want to pre plan and pre pay for their funeral by offering a range of funeral plans.

Further information is available by visiting: http://www.co-operativefuneralcare.co.uk/

About The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS)

CLS is an integral part of the Consumer Services Division of the Co-operative Group, which includes General Insurance and Funeralcare. CLS was established in 2006 and in 2012 it became the first major consumer brand to be granted alternative business structure (ABS) status under the new Legal Services Act.

CLS is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and offers the following services: Family law, Wills, Probate, Personal injury, Employment Law and Conveyancing (through panel firms).

Further information is available by visiting: https://www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/

About The Co-operative Group

Both The Co-operative Funeralcare and The Co-operative Legal Services are part of The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest co-operative business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.”

The Co-operative Group, which is the UK’s largest co-operative business with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £11 billion.