Will you make the cut: Co-op sees January peak in will amendments

10 January 2018

January is typically seen as a month of cutting back and it seems that doesn’t stop at gym memberships and eating habits. Data from Co-op Legal Services has led to predictions that, for some, the focus on keeping it lean this January may also include cutting beneficiaries out of their will.

Whether it’s down to Christmas conflicts or new family arrivals, Co-op saw a 71%¹ increase in will amendments in January 2017, compared to the previous month. The dramatic rise in alterations is considered to be partly down to increased time spent with family over Christmas, leading to a reconsideration about who will be receiving what, as well as a focus on getting affairs in order for the New Year. As well as changes to existing wills, Co-op Legal Services also saw a 58% increase in the number of new wills taken out in January 2017 compared to December the previous year.

With the ability to start making your will, Lasting Power of Attorney and funeral plan online with the Co-op, it’s now become easier than ever for people to plan for the later stages of their life.

Whilst more than a third of Co-op’s wills business now comes from its online channel (35%)² data from the provider of later life products and services reveals that there is still a huge financial planning gap to close in 2018. Across the UK: - 45%³ of UK adults do not have a will - Of the 55% of adults who do have a will, whilst January sees a spike in amendments, many adults admit to never having updated their will meaning that it could be ineffective - 84% of UK adults don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney - 93% of UK adults have yet to make a funeral plan meaning their families will be exposed to rising funeral costs and uncertainty about their loved one’s wishes in the future

Commenting, James Antoniou, Head of Wills at Co-op said:

‘’Christmas brings people together but it can also lead to conflicts and family fallouts - as a result of this we tend to see a peak in will amendments coming through in January.

“The rise in new enquiries is also common at this time of year, following on from a holiday period people have often had time to reflect and consequently make the decision to start to get their finances in order for the New Year.’’

Caroline Jones, Head of Propositions for Co-op Funeralcare and Later Life Planning said:

‘’The importance of later life planning is still not widely recognised and it tends to be something that people put off. We however have started to see a positive shift, with an increase in later life planning over the course of 2017 – something we encourage to prevent added stress for loved ones further down the line.’’

Co-op Legal Services’ will writing tips:

  1. We advise everyone to consider making a will because, where someone passes away with no valid will in England or Wales, the law will decide who gets what and it may not be what the individual would have wanted

  2. Be explicit, an unclear will could cause as many problems as having none at all. Make sure the interpretation is as clear and concise as possible to minimise arguments. Many people choose a professional will writing service for peace of mind

  3. Just because there’s a will in place it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think about it anymore, a will should be reviewed every couple of years and after any significant life event to ensure it still reflects an individual’s circumstances and wishes

  4. Think about whom to appoint as executors (minimum of one, two is advisable). These are the people who are legally responsible for carrying out the terms of the will so they need to be people that are trusted, who are diligent and who have the time

  5. For those that are married or with a partner, it’s worth considering mirror wills. Mirror wills are commonly made by couples that have very similar wishes about what should benefit in their wills

  6. With Co-op Legal Services, wills are stored free of charge for your lifetime. It’s always important to tell next of kin where a will is stored to avoid any concerns

  7. A will can be started anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year using Co-op’s Online Will Service – this is a great alternative for those who are time poor but still want to use a fixed fee professional will writing service that’s regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority

  8. What about pets? In English law, pets are part of an Estate, so a will should specify what an individual would like to happen to their pets after they pass away

  9. Look after a charitable cause. Gifts left in wills are vital to charities, with Cancer Research UK stating it makes up over a third of its income⁴. It is possible for people to leave a charitable gift within their will

  10. Protecting any children, it is possible to use a will to name people that the individual and their children would trust to look after their well-being if they die. Stating these wishes in a will can give additional peace of mind that children will be properly protected

Ends

Notes to editors

¹Taken from Co-op Legal services business data for January 2017 vs. December 2016
²Co-op Legal Services data – October 2016-July 2017
³Research conducted on behalf of Co-op by Atomik among 2,000 UK adults in May 2017
⁴Figures provided by Cancer Research UK. For further information please visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/how-we-are-run/annual-report-and-accounts

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Alexandra Wilson
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Email: Alexandra.wilson1@coop.co.uk
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Sarah Pyatt
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Email: sarah.pyatt@coop.co.uk
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About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and 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-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 billion.

Home to the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare conducts almost 100,000 funerals annually across over 1,000 funeral homes. Combined with its leading legal services business, the Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.

Co-op Funeralcare has been recognised as the Best Funeral Plan Provider in the 2018 Moneynet Personal Finance awards, its funeral plans have also been awarded 5* ratings by Fairer Finance and Defaqto.