Despite constant reminders about the importance of making a will, the majority of UK adults do not have one.
In 2018, research from Unbiased found 60 per cent of UK adults had made no such provision.
A similar study of 1,000 adults by Percy Hughes & Roberts earlier this year put the figure at 67 per cent, despite 90 per cent of respondents wanting to leave assets to their immediate family.
Sarah Saunders, personal tax manager for RSM UK, comments: “People always worry about tax, but the most important thing in your will is to make sure that your money is used in the way you would want - to protect and support the people you care about after you are gone.”
Will Hale, chief executive of Key, agrees: “If you don’t have a will, you will die intestate and the state will be responsible for dividing your estate.”
Typically, only close relatives and spouses/civil partners would inherit under these circumstances, which means if a client’s hated brother is the only living relative then he will inherit your estate, unless there is a will.
Mr Hale advises that, when clients are considering making a will, they should work with their advisers to compose a list of all desired beneficiaries, which would include both valuable assets and sentimental items.
This point is hammered home by Rhoda Copper, chartered tax adviser and council member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters: “It is particularly important for couples who are cohabiting but not married to have a will.
“This is because the intestacy rules do not provide any protection for co-habitees, so they could find themselves at the mercy of the deceased’s family.
“It would possible be for the co-habitee to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, but this could be costly and take some time.”
And when should clients make a will?
Robert Clough, investment manager at Thesis Asset Management, opines: “It is never too soon to make a will. If you have any assets then you should think about doing one.”
Working with professional partners
Tracyann Kneen, head of product technical for Nucleus, advocates partnering with solicitors and other professionals to get the best outcome for the client: “The appropriate executors will need to be named to ensure the estate is dealt with according to the client’s wishes.
“There will be circumstances when it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor, such as when several family members could make a claim on the will or where there are children your client wishes to make a provision for.”
Ms Copper believes it is vital to choose the right executors to help “locate and identify the deceased’s persons assets and liabilities, determine the beneficiaries, in some cases apply for a grant of probate, and arrange for the distribution of the estate in accordance with the terms of the will”.