Nearly three in five (57%) UK adults do not have a will in place, according to a poll from Royal London.
The survey of 2,000 people also found major misconceptions about wills among the general public.
Two in five (39%) people incorrectly thought the legal responsibility for children will automatically go to the immediate family if their parent(s) were to die without a will. In fact, without a will in place the legal responsibility for any dependent children under 18 would fall to the courts, until a decision is made on who will become guardians.
A third (31%) of people didn’t know what would happen to their assets if they separated from their spouse. A will is technically valid even if you a couple separates, which means until they divorce the spouse could still be entitled to assets.
Some people incorrectly thought a cohabiting partner would inherit their assets, and around nine in 10 (87%) were not aware that a will written in England may not be valid in Scotland.
In Scotland, someone cannot legally remove their spouse or children as beneficiaries even if they have a will which doesn’t include them. However, two thirds (65%) of UK adults did not know this is the case in Scots law, and only one in five (21%) of those living in Scotland are aware that this rule applies.
Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson at Royal London, warned that not having a will in place can lead to all sorts of complications, many of which the general public are not aware of.
“But even with a will in place, there are misconceptions around what happens to your assets when you die. It’s important to not only write a will, but also to make sure it reflects your wishes and to keep it up to date if your circumstances change,” she added.