It's time to break the taboo and learn to talk to family members about Wills

Are we facing a dementia crisis and if so how can we plan for it?
  • Almost half (48%) of UK adults have not spoken to family members about their own Will and inheritance plans
  • 43% of UK adults have not spoken to a family member about their loved ones’ Will and inheritance plans
  • Half (50%) of UK adults are expecting to receive an inheritance in the future, with 40% having already decided how they are going to spend the inheritance
  • People aged 55+ are the most prepared with 62% admitting they had discussed their Will with family.
  • Lawyer calls for families to talk Wills when a parent remarries

A leading probate lawyer is calling for people to have open and honest conversations with family members about Wills and inheritance to avoid future heartache and dispute once a loved one dies.

New online YouGov research reveals UK adults are putting off talking to their family about what will happen to their money and estate when they or a family member dies, with many people admitting to using their prospective inheritance as a failsafe for future spending.

A YouGov survey of over 2,000 UK adults (18+) revealed almost half (48%) of UK adults have not spoken to family members about their own Will and future inheritance plans and 43% have not asked their parents or close relative about their Will or inheritance plans.

However, half (50%) of the people surveyed have an expectation that they will receive an inheritance in the future, with 40% having already earmarked how they plan to spend that inheritance.

The survey highlighted that people aged 55+ are the most prepared with 62% admitting they have discussed the plan for their own Will with family members.

However, fewer Gen z’ers and Millennials are talking to their families about their plans with just over a quarter (27%) of 25 to 34 year-olds and less than a third (30%) of 35-44 year olds having these conversations.

Commissioned by national law firm Stephensons the survey also revealed how people intend to spend an anticipated inheritance with 20% planning to save, 15% looking to pay off some or all of the mortgage, 11% making an investment, 10% moving home, 9% going on holiday, 8% carrying out home improvements, 6% buying a new car and 5% paying school fees.

A further 10% who are expecting an inheritance admitted to not knowing yet how they would spend an inheritance left to them.

The danger here is that many people are actively planning their future spending around an anticipated inheritance, warns Jill Rushton, Partner and Head of the Wills and Probate team at Stephensons.

Jill said: “Now is the time to break down the taboo and talk to our family members about Wills and inheritance, whatever your age, and get a Will in place.

“If families don’t have honest conversations with each other about later life financial planning, Wills may make a provision different than family members are expecting, or if there is no Will, the estate gets directed by the rules of intestacy in a way that is also different to loved ones expectations.

“The moral is that people need to talk to family members about what will happen to an estate when they die and those leaving the estate should consult a solicitor to make a Will, if they have not done so already, and keep it updated. Later life financial planning will avoid any nasty surprises or unintended consequences occurring.”

Jill explains that further complications can arise when family circumstances change, for instance if a parent remarries and intends to make changes to their Will in order to make provision for their new spouse.

She added: “It is prudent that Wills are kept up to date and that if any changes are made that they are discussed with the family members involved.”

Top tips when writing a Will:

  • If you are the person writing the Will talk to your family about your intentions
  • It is important to have a properly drafted Will that has been executed correctly
  • Discuss with your solicitor the size of your Estate, any tax exemptions, and reliefs that you could use to minimise your inheritance tax liability (if any)
  • Proper advice is particularly important if there are people that would expect to benefit but you choose to leave them out of your Will or leave them less than they would expect
  • If you choose not to make provision for someone make this clear in your Will
  • In order to avoid disputed inheritance claims prepare a handwritten letter of reasons with your Will to explain why you have either not provided for someone or have left them less that they would have expected
  • You should not be made to feel that you must benefit someone. You could choose to leave your Estates to a favourite charity, the Church or even friends.  There is no requirement for you to benefit those that you would be expected to like your children, grandchildren etc
  • Regularly review your will and keep up to date if family circumstances change