April 16 2014 Latest news:

Nearly 30 million people do not have wills – potentially spelling financial heartache for their loved ones.

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Despite regular campaigns encouraging people to think about their legacies, and with about 20pc of people expecting to leave more than £10,000 of savings when they die, lethargy still dominates the wills landscape.

According to Unbiased.co.uk, 10pc of Britons have never considered writing wills, and a similar number of people believe their estates will go to the right people automatically.

One of the more worrying statistics to come out of the Unbiased research is that more than a third of people over 55 do not have wills in place.

Under the rules of intestacy, when a person dies without leaving a valid will, the estate must be shared out according to certain rules. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

“Thinking about the possibility of something bad happening to you is never an easy topic but, nonetheless, it is hugely important,” said Karen Barrett, chief executive of Unbiased.

“Our research clearly shows that the nation is gripped by ‘wills apathy’, whether that is putting it off until they are older or incorrectly believing their estate will automatically go to the right people.

“Many people are simply unaware of the control that having a will gives you and its importance in ensuring your loved ones receive what you intend for them.”

About half of all married adults apparently do not have wills, even though a spouse or a civil partner may inherit only £250,000 if there is no will in place and there are children or grandchildren.

More than half of all unmarried adults living with a partner intend to leave a property to a loved one, yet partners face severe disappointment if there is no will in place.

Sue Hammett, a solicitor specialising in wills and probate at law firm Howes Percival,” said: “The surviving partner can only claim against the other partner’s estate for maintenance, and they must have been living together throughout the two years before the death.”

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