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Populus research reveals relaxed attitudes to wills among UK public

Populus research, conducted on behalf of Which? finds that 61 per cent of British adults do not have a will, a figure representing over 30 million people. This follows previous Populus research into other forms of legal protection; despite increasing coverage in the media, only 2% of married couples surveyed had entered into a pre-nup.

While the figure on wills is not as stark, it nevertheless suggests a gap in the public’s understanding of the relative cost and time commitment of getting a will. Experts also believe that many of the 3.4 million cohabiting couples, who are not married or in a civil partnership, believe they have legal protection that in fact is not there. “There is no safety net for cohabiting, unmarried couples,” says Darren Stott, managing director of Which? Legal.

Looking further into the detail of those people who did not make a will, Populus finds that:

  • 38% say they have nothing worth inheriting
  • 20% say writing a will had not occurred to them
  • 16% say they have been too busy to write a will


Londoners least likely among English to have wills

The survey also highlights regional differences in terms of the public’s approach: people in England are significantly more likely (42%) than those in Wales (35%) and Scotland (31%) to have made wills. There were also differences within the English regions, with the South West representing the highest proportion of people making wills, and London the lowest.

Populus also asked about the public’s preparedness to leave money to charity via a will. While the overall finding was that two thirds (67%) would not, there was a clear divide along age lines: 57% of 18-24 year olds saying they would leave money to charity in their will, while just 19% of those aged over 65 said they would make some form of donation.

Commenting on these findings, Darren Stott, Managing Director of Which? Legal, said:

“It’s clear that people don’t appreciate the risks of not having a valid will in place. Even if you think you have nothing worth inheriting, this is often not the case.

“Whatever stage of life you’re at, a will offers peace of mind and ensures that your money, property and other possessions go to the right place.

“Giving money to charity in your will can be a tax efficient way to pass your money on.”

Populus delivers insight into the attitudes the British public. It offers the chance to form successful strategies for a range of organisations, and, by getting to the heart of social and cultural issues, delivers greater in-depth understanding of the fields in which they operate. Find out more about our Solutions.


Populus interviewed a Nationally Representative sample of 2078 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel from the 8th – 10th June 2018. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more details go to www.populus.co.uk

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