The perils of failing to write a will

The government pocketed tens of millions of pounds last year from unclaimed estates – highlighting the perils of failing to make a will.

New stats suggests that more than eight million people aged 50 and over do not have wills in place, and this could leave their friends and family at risk of missing out on an inheritance.

Research by insurance firm RIAS also found some naivety amongst that age group over what happens when people die intestate. Although it is possible your estate will be dealt with in the way you predict, it’s important to remember that the law sets out who should deal with your affairs and inherit your estate if you don’t have a will.

In the worst-case scenario, the government can pocket some or all of the money if you haven’t written a will. The Treasury benefited to the tune of more than £40m last year.

“It’s clear from these findings that making a will is still a bit of a stumbling block for a lot of people over the age of 50,” said RIAS managing director Peter Corfield.

“People with busy lives might say they don’t have the time, whilst some people may not want to face the prospect of writing one up as they could see it as a real sign of getting older.

“If you don’t have a will in place then your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to the law instead of your wishes. This can mean your estate passes to someone you hadn’t intended – or that someone you want to pass things on to ends up with nothing.”