Five reasons why people don’t have a Will (and why this doesn’t make sense)

In 1978, Bob Marley hosted his iconic ‘One Love’ concert, bringing political rivals together on stage in an attempt to stop the violence that had plagued Jamaica for years. This is how the world remembers him: as a champion of peace and unity.

But his family experienced quite the opposite after he died.

Marley failed to leave a Will, meaning that the government had to decide how to divide his $30 million estate. This marked the start of a decades-long legal battle between 11 children, 1 wife, 6 former partners and 21 ex-musicians fighting for a portion of the estate, as well as the rights to Marley’s name and image.

All this could have been avoided if Bob Marley had written a Will.

Unfortunately, many families could face legal problems of their own after losing a loved one as new research from Canada Life reveals that 51% of UK adults don’t have a Will.

Bob Marley didn’t write a Will because it was against his religious beliefs. Yet, many people skip this important estate planning step for other reasons.

Read on to learn five common reasons why people don’t have a Will, and why none of them make any sense!

1. I don’t have enough assets to warrant writing a Will

Canada Life reports that 26% of people said they didn’t have a Will because they didn’t think they had enough wealth.

For most people, their home is their largest asset and this normally passes to their partner automatically, if they’re joint tenants. If they don’t have a lot of wealth from other sources, they might assume they don’t need a Will.

This may be incorrect for several reasons. Firstly, even if you only have modest assets, it’s still important that they are passed to the people that you intended. Secondly, your Will doesn’t only give instructions about dividing up your estate. You could also include decisions about:

  • Your funeral arrangements
  • Guardians for your children
  • Digital assets such as photos or social media accounts
  • Who looks after your pets.

These are all crucial decisions that you likely want to make yourself and writing a Will allows you this control.

2. I’m too young to need a Will

The survey from Canada Life also found that 23% of people thought they had plenty of time to make a Will, so they hadn’t got around to it yet. Younger people may feel this way and assume that they don’t need a Will until they’re older and more likely to face health problems.

However, nobody can see the future and, tragically, you could fall terminally ill or be involved in a fatal accident at any time. For example, the UK government reports that 1,711 people died in road traffic accidents in Great Britain in 2022.

If you don’t have a Will, your family could face legal challenges if you die unexpectedly. So, you may want to create an estate plan sooner rather than later and, at the very least, write your Will.

3. I’m leaving everything to my partner

You might assume that you don’t need a Will if you’re leaving everything to your partner as they automatically inherit everything but that isn’t necessarily true – especially if you’re not married or in a civil partnership.

Without a Will, your estate is normally divided according to the “rules of intestacy”. Under these rules your spouse or civil partner inherits:

  • All your personal property and belongings
  • The first £322,000 of the estate
  • Half of the remaining estate.

The rest of the estate is divided equally among any children. So, if you want everything to go to your partner, you must specify this in a Will.

If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, your partner isn’t entitled to inherit anything under the rules of intestacy. This could mean that they receive nothing. Instead, your estate would be divided between children, if you have any, or other surviving family members such as parents or siblings.

As a result, it’s always beneficial to have a Will, even if you plan to leave everything to your partner.

4. Writing a Will is too expensive

Some people avoid writing a Will because they think it’s too expensive. The average cost of a Will varies a lot depending on your situation and the complexity of your estate plan. According to Money Helper, a simple Will can cost anywhere from £150 up to £2,408.

Yet, while it can be a big expense, it’s worthwhile because it gives you and your family peace of mind. Writing a Will could also help you mitigate Inheritance Tax (IHT), saving your family a significant amount of money when you’re gone.

If you’re concerned about the price, you may be able to save money by shopping around. There are also initiatives such as “Free Wills Month” in March and October, and “Will Aid” in November. During these events, charities offer free Will writing services in exchange for a donation.

5. I don’t like thinking about death

Thinking about your own mortality and what happens to your family when you’re gone can be challenging and this is often why people neglect making a Will.

Unfortunately, avoiding the conversation won’t prevent you from passing away eventually and, if you don’t have a Will or estate plan, the situation will be more difficult for your family when you’re gone.

Writing a Will and having more open conversations with your family ensures that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Get in touch

We can support you in writing your Will, creating an estate plan, and taking care of your family.

Email or call 0333 241 9900 for more information today.

Please note

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning or Will writing.

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