Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on will making

We are living in extraordinary times right now, in the grip of a global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many people are concerned to ensure that their affairs are in order and that they have made a Will, which is one of the most important legal documents you can create in life.

It is always sensible to have a valid Will in place to ensure that your estate is divided among the people (or charities) you want to receive it. The coronavirus outbreak has given further impetus to many people to put their affairs in order, and having a valid Will in place is particularly important if you suffer from any underlying health issues or are elderly.

Need to discuss wills and inheritance

Families are becoming more open about their finances, with the COVID-19 crisis highlighting the need to discuss Wills and inheritance. A study conducted at the height of the pandemic shows the pandemic has encouraged more people to make a Will[1].

A third (33%) of people in the UK have either drafted a new Will or have amended an existing one as a result of the global health and humanitarian crisis we’re facing. The research highlights that this is also having a broader effect and is making families more open about their finances. Nearly four out of five (78%) believe the pandemic will lead to more conversations about inheritance planning within their families.

Complex family set-ups the new normal

The pandemic has not spurred everyone to act: more than a fifth (22%) of people surveyed say they do not have a Will, and do not plan to draw one up. Worryingly, around one in ten say they believe doing so would be tempting fate.

Families can face major problems if there is not a Will in place, particularly as complex family set-ups are increasingly becoming the new normal. Nearly one in seven (13%) families in the UK now have a stepson, stepdaughter and/or adopted son or daughter as part of their family. And a fifth (21%) of parents have been involved in two or more romantic relationships that have led to them being legally responsible for children to whom they have no biological link.

Significant impact on estate planning

An outdated Will can be challenged, which could be a drain on a family’s estate. This is especially pertinent as only 27% of adults are confident that their current Wills are unlikely to offend relatives. Nearly half (49%) of those with a Will have never rewritten or amended it. Just 24% have amended their Will once, 16% have amended it twice, and only 5% have amended it three times.

Rising concerns over marital health is also having a significant impact on estate planning. The study also found that over two thirds (67%) of parents have decided to delay family inheritance planning for fear that their children’s marriages will end in divorce, with the likelihood of wealth and assets leaving the family estate.

Mitigate substantial wealth leaving the family

In fact, a quarter (27%) of parents have little or no confidence about the prospects of their children’s marriages lasting a lifetime, and one in six (16%) have doubts about their in-laws’ financial competence. The findings show that these worries are not unsubstantiated, with more than one in four parents (27%) having children who are separated or divorced.

To mitigate substantial wealth leaving the family in the event of divorce, a fifth of parents (21%) are gifting small amounts to their children to help with day-to-day living, while 19% are gifting directly to their grandchildren. Parents have other reasons for restricting levels of financial support: 13% of parents say it will reduce their children’s incentive to work, and 12% think there would be little left for their grandchildren.

Protecting your wealth for future generations

The majority (83%) of respondents questioned as part of the research commented that the experience of the coronavirus pandemic will encourage people to sort out their financial affairs and trigger them into drawing up new Wills. A Will is one of the most important legal documents you can create in life, as it serves to protect your financial assets after you have passed away. To discuss your estate planning requirements, contact us for further information.

Source data:

[1] Research conducted by Consumer Intelligence for Handelsbanken in April 2020 with over 1,000 respondents.

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS.

ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

THE RULES AROUND WILLS ARE COMPLICATED, SO YOU SHOULD ALWAYS OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.

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PRESS INFORMATION

For further information, please contact:
Andrea Barker
andrea.barker@fairstone.co.uk
/ Tel. +44 (0) 191 519 6243