Law Society research – 7% of respondents made or updated their will during the first COVID-19 lockdown

New research unveiled today by the Law Society shows 7% of respondents made or updated their will during the first UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown but many have yet to put their affairs in order.

“The coronavirus pandemic has made people reflect on how vital it is to make sure their loved ones are taken care of if they were to die,” said Law Society of England and Wales president David Greene.

A Law Society survey, which took place just after the first lockdown restrictions began to ease, showed that well over half (59%) of those surveyed said they did not have a will. Just 29% said they have an up-to-date will which reflects their current intentions.

7% of all respondents and 6% of those who identified as keyworkers made or updated their will during the first UK lockdown – given how many people do not have a will, this is a striking shift.

Over half of those surveyed who were working during the first UK lockdown, said they were a key worker. Key workers are at a higher risk throughout this pandemic and are often more conscious of mortality due to working with those who have COVID-19.

The main reasons respondents gave for not making a will were not having anything of value to leave to their loved ones (24%), not finding the time to make a will (20%) and thinking they were too young to make a will (18%).*

David Greene added: “It is hugely encouraging so many people have made wills during the first UK lockdown, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the UK public do not have an up-to-date will as we enter the second wave of COVID-19 cases.

“In some demographics – such as urban and BAME communities – will-making is particularly uncommon. Only 25% of those from a BAME background had a will, compared to 42% of white respondents. Similarly, only 36% of people in urban areas had a will compared to 54% from rural areas.*

“Many people are unaware of the chaos they can leave behind if they do not make a will or regularly update one to reflect their current wishes.

“If someone dies without making a will – also known as dying intestate – the law determines how much of their estate their spouse, children and other relatives will inherit. Under intestacy laws, unmarried partners and close friends cannot inherit, meaning loved ones could be left with nothing.

“Writing a legally valid will with the help of an expert solicitor ensures people’s estates are inherited exactly as they would choose and can prevent a whole raft of problems landing on loved ones when they are grieving.

“The government has also recently introduced temporary legislation to permit remote witnessing for wills so those who cannot make a will in person during the pandemic can ensure their wishes are up to date.

“When writing a will, people should also consider making end of life provisions – which determine how they want to be treated medically at the end of their life – and lasting powers of attorney – which grants a trusted friend or family member the right to make financial and welfare decisions on their behalf if they lose mental capacity or become seriously unwell.

“68% of those surveyed did not make lasting powers of attorney or end of life provisions.* Many do not know that lasting powers of attorney or end of life provisions can only be made whilst they are deemed to have mental capacity.

“Making these arrangements alongside their will ensures people are able to make these important decisions for themselves – giving them peace of mind during the pandemic and going forwards.”

Notes to editors

*A Populus survey of more than 1,000 members of the public commissioned by the Law Society asked several questions about whether people had made a will. The survey took place in late June 2020.

For more information on the research, email emma.clarke@lawsociety.org.uk.

About the Law Society

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Press office contact: Emma Clarke | 020 8049 3743