Do you know what a Will is for?

Posted on: 25 July 2016 by 50connect editorial

Only two in every 100 Brits can accurately describe what a Will is for and why they need one

Understanding Wills

A staggering 98% of Britons can’t accurately describe what a will is for, according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support[1]. Furthermore an estimated seven million Brits have promised something to a loved one after they die but not covered it in a will.

The survey of 2000 adults shows that while people say they like to plan ahead (68%) and say they are comfortable talking about their dying wishes (49%), they are actually putting off important tasks like will writing, with over 60% of the adult population not having a will.

With 60% of Brits admitting to not having a will, the top reasons given were having ‘just never got round to it’ (41%), the belief that they don’t have anything valuable to leave (26%) and that they don’t think they need to write one until they’re older (21%).

Macmillan Cancer Support is encouraging the nation to discuss their end of life wishes with loved ones, and move writing a will to the top of their to-do list to avoid heaping financial stress on to their loved ones after they’ve gone.

Survey findings:

  • 89% of 18-34 year olds do not have a will compared to 32% of over 55s 
  • Brits believe 40 years old is the average age when people should make a will but over a third of Brits don’t know how much a will costs
  • Nearly a third of people said they would consider leaving a gift in their will to charity
  • Two thirds didn’t know that leaving a gift to charity may reduce inheritance tax their family has to pay
  • 49% of Brits claim that they’re comfortable talking about their own death but only 38% have discussed their own funeral arrangements
  • Dying with no regrets was named as the most important thing in ensuring a ‘good death’
  • Nearly a quarter or Brits say that a celebrity’s death makes them think about their own mortality with the deaths of high profile celebrities, including David Bowie and Victoria Wood, making people think about their own death 

Martin Lewis, founder of, says: “Not having a will can heap financial stress onto the grief. If you have assets, it’s important to decide what you want to happen to them. If you don’t, your money and assets could be locked away with your loved ones unable to access them – causing all types of problems. Making a will doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to get done. Some unpleasant chats are the most important ones.”

Domino MacNaughton, Legacy Manager at Macmillan, says: “We want to encourage people to look to the future in a positive way and help educate them about a topic that is often misunderstood. With estimates showing that by 2020 one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime, leaving a legacy to a charity in your will could help Macmillan ensure no one faces cancer alone.”

Gifts in wills currently make up nearly a third of Macmillan’s annual fundraising income, and help ensure that people can continue to receive emotional, practical and financial support when they need it the most. 

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