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7 February 2012A shocking one in three Wills in the UK is out of date, leaving over £1 trillion of assets at risk of ending up in the wrong hands, according to new research released today.
When WILL You Change Yours? A report commissioned by Remember A Charity reveals that 29% of people with a Will admitted it is out of date and intend to change it. And with the amount left in Wills now averaging £160,000, up to £1.1 trillion (equivalent to two-thirds of the UK’s GDP in 2011) could fail to reach the intended recipients.
The West Midlands topped the list when it came to out of date Wills, with 48% of people surveyed saying their Wills needed to be updated compared with just 22% in the East Midlands and Wales. The report also highlighted strong regional differences in Will making. 53% per cent of people in Scotland have made a Will, the highest in the UK, whilst only 39% of people in the West Midlands have done so.
Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, a consortium which encourages charitable gifts in Wills said, “Everyone should have an up-to-date Will. It’s your chance to make sure you look after everything you care about, from your friends and family through to your favourite charities. Life is unpredictable, so I would urge people to make sure it’s in order, before it’s too late.”
There are many reasons why people may need to change a Will, including major life events such as a marriage, divorce or separation, the birth of a child, the death of a friend or relative included in a Will or a change in financial circumstances.
A previous Will is automatically revoked in the event of marriage or a civil partnership in England and Wales, for example. In the case of divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, a bequest to a spouse would no longer be valid and fall back to the estate. Equally, children born after a parent has written a Will do not automatically become beneficiaries.
Sue Medder, lawyer and Wills expert at Withers LLP and co-presenter of BBC’s 'Can't Take It with You', is supporting the campaign to encourage people to update their Wills. “Modern day living has given rise to complex family relationships, with far more cohabiting couples and second marriages. If your Will is not up to date there is a good chance that it does not reflect your wishes. In the event of death your estate may not be divided up as you would have wished and the beneficiaries may even end up with an entirely avoidable tax bill. From April, there is also a strong incentive to change your will and leave something to charity when new inheritance tax breaks come in for those leaving charitable gifts.”
The UK is incredibly charitably minded, with 75% of us regularly giving to charities in our lifetimes but only 7% of us currently leave charitable donations in our Wills. Nevertheless gifts in Wills are vital to many charities in this country, contributing around £2 billion every year.
If you want to find out more you can download a summary of When WILL You Change Yours?, which includes practical advice on when to think about changing a Will.