How the pandemic has changed our attitudes towards wills - perhaps forever

We've long been urging people to make sure their wills are up to date - especially if you have remarried or you've had more children. We've seen all too many times how dying without a will can lead to heartbreak and it seems the pandemic has changed the way we think about wills - and it's about time!

A spike in will-related enquiries

Before the pandemic, less than 40 of people had a will - and just 5% had a lasting power of attorney (link to find out why blog). Since October 2021, those figures have edged up to around 50%.

We were one of many solicitors firms that experienced a spike in will-related services during the pandemic (link to blog), as it was the rude awakening we all needed as a nation to plan our futures - and thankfully, it looks as though that trend is here to stay.

Writing more wills

According to research by Legal and General, the search term "will writing" peaked in March 2020 with 11,000 searches online per month. More than a fifth of respondents aged 16-24 "strongly agreed" that their perspective of will writing had changed since the pandemic - the highest of any age group. Those in the same category also said more than half had changed a will since the pandemic, with 18% saying the driver was due to falling ill with Covid-19.

Let's hope this new generation of will-writers can keep the trend going, as it seems the over-55s category still has more work to do. Just 14% said they'd updated their wills in the last year, with just 1% saying this was due to falling ill with Covid-19. Worryingly, this could mean older people who may have had their wills for years are neglecting to update them - so it's really important you check yours to make sure your family is protected.

Where there’s a will, there’s motivation!

According to the Legal and General survey, ensuring assets are left to the right beneficiaries (47%) was the top answer that motivated people into writing their wills. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most people choose to leave their assets to their children (60%), spouse (38%), and siblings (15%).

Other motivations for writing a will included charitable giving, which was chosen by 10% of respondents, with 14% of residents in the South East choosing to leave assets to charitable organisations and ensuring that the deceased’s family is provided for financially (43%). Just 13% said their motivation was to avoid paying more inheritance tax than required.

The survey also highlighted a gender divide as only 41% of women have a will, compared to 53% of men, as well as regional differences: 64% of people in Northern Ireland do not have a will in place (the highest of any region), compared to 45% of Londoners.

Are you writing yours?

For those who have not taken out a will, the most popular reason, selected by 40% of respondents was “I haven’t got round to it“, followed by “I have no assets to pass on” (21%), and “I’m too young” (14%).

If you need some help to write your will or LPA, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office