'More people updated their wills last year than at any time in previous 10 years'

Health fears caused by the pandemic led to an increase in the numbers of people who updated their wills last year, according to research commissioned by Brewin Dolphin.
The pandemic appears to have reminded people of their mortality, according to Brewin DolphinThe pandemic appears to have reminded people of their mortality, according to Brewin Dolphin
The pandemic appears to have reminded people of their mortality, according to Brewin Dolphin

Richard Harwood, a financial planner, at Brewin Dolphin in Leeds said the pandemic seemed to have reminded people of their mortality and the importance of an up-to- date will.

In 2020, 7 per cent of men changed their will compared with just 2 per cent in 2015 and less than one per cent in 2010, Brewin Dolphin said.

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Last year 5% of women who have a will changed or updated it. This compares to 1% who updated or changed their wills in 2015 and less than 1% in 2010, according to Brewin Dolphin's research.

Mr Harwood said: "Our results show that very few people made an attempt to update or change their will between 2010 and 2019. The fact that so many more people did so in 2020 has to be because of the fear of the impact of the pandemic.”

The survey showed that the over-65s were the group most likely to update their will last year, with 12% of those with wills doing so.

A spokesman said: "The second most popular groups were the over-40s and over-50s. Indeed, just under 8% of 55-to-64-year-olds and just under 5% of 45-to-54 year-olds updated their wills during 2020. Just under 3% of 24-to-35-year-olds changed their wills in 2020 and 4% of 35-to-44 year-olds did so.

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"However, the survey results show that the majority of people do not have a will at all, especially women. The findings reveal that 73% of women and 67% of men questioned do not have a will.

Mr Harwood said: "When we commissioned the survey, we did not expect so few people to have a written will.

“Making a will really is one of the most important things you can do. It ensures that your assets go to who you want after your death, and that your wishes are carried out. We advise all our clients to seek legal advice to ensure their wishes are met and set up in the most suitable way for them.

“Many people want to leave a legacy for their loved ones, be it children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren. Funding a 30-year retirement and passing on wealth is by no

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means easy, which is why it is even more important to plan early. We always work with our clients to encourage them to write a will and we help them structure their investments tax- efficiently.”

Brewin Dolphin’s five tips for making a will:

1. Put wills on your life admin “to-do list”

The most common reason for not having written a will is simply because people ‘just haven’t thought about it’. The simple act of creating a “to-do list” for life admin tasks such as this will

ensure it stays top of mind. We all lead such busy lives that it can be easy to put off estate planning, but it’s best to put one in place sooner rather than later. Not only does this ensure

that your wishes are carried out, but it also helps to reduce the emotional and financial burden on loved ones at an already difficult time.

2. Envisage your legacy

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It’s not nice to think about your own mortality but envisaging the legacy we want to leave our loved ones can be a more positive way to start planning your will.

3. Consider helping loved ones financially now

Create an opportunity to talk to those close to you about inheritance matters. For instance, you can talk about the items you might like to pass on, as well as discuss how they might spend any inheritance. When people have conversations about inheritance, they often discover that they can help their loved ones financially now, rather waiting until they’ve passed away. As well as being able to see first-hand your loved ones benefiting, this can also help reduce inheritance tax.

4. Think about your individual circumstances

For those who pass away without having established a will, referred to as dying ‘intestate’, the law will determine what happens to their estate and who will receive their money, property and possessions. By creating a will, you will ensure your wishes are met regardless of your individual circumstances.

5. Create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document in which the individual appoints one or more people to act for them if they become incapable of making decisions. This can only be set up at a time when the individual, or “donor”, has the mental capacity to do so.

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It is therefore important to think about this when you are in good health so that unnecessary stress is not put on your loved ones should it be necessary for them to take control of your financial decisions. For example, even if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse will not automatically be able to deal with your bank accounts and pensions, and make decisions about your health and care, if you lose the ability to do so, if you have not specified this in your LPA.

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