Pandemic prompts later life planning surge

Has the pandemic made you think about death? New research has found that UK adults have been prompted to put in place critical legal documents relating to their death and end of life care.

But despite this surge in later life and inheritance planning, more than 45 million people in the UK still have not started the process of writing a will or lasting power of attorney.

The research from insurance Canada Life reveals an interesting consequence from the pandemic, with 4.9 million people writing a will in the past 12 months.

4.1 million people have created a lasting power of attorney, a legal document designed to give control of your personal or financial affairs to a nominated person, should you lose mental capacity.

Additionally, 5.4 million people have changed or added guardians for their dependents to their existing will and 4.6 million have engaged with a solicitor or the Office of the Public Guardian to register a lasting power of attorney.

4.1 million people have completed an expression of wishes form for their pension.

These are all positive financial planning steps and arguably a positive outcome from the pandemic if more people are prepared for the future.

But many people remain reluctant to draw up these essential legal documents. Where people die without a will (called dying ‘intestate’) or lose mental capacity without a lasting power of attorney in place, it can result in lengthy and often costly legal proceedings for their families.

The research found that a significant proportion of those yet to start the process of writing a will or putting a lasting power of attorney in place was over 55 years old. Younger people aged 18 to 34 years old have been more proactive with their future planning.

Neil Jones, tax and estate planning specialist at Canada Life, said:

“Despite wills and estate planning remaining a sensitive subject for households across the UK, the global pandemic has clearly prompted many people into taking action. While mortality remains a taboo subject, having the paperwork in place can take away much of the emotional and financial pressure at a very difficult time.

“Dying ‘intestate’, basically without a valid will in place, leaves all of the control with the legal system which decides who should inherit your estate. A basic will can be easy to put in place if your affairs are not complicated and can make all the difference on your passing, ensuring not only a speedy distribution of your estate but also ensure the correct people receive the right assets.

“Taking the first step is always the most difficult part of this process, however, there are a whole range of services and support available to make this as easy as possible. By taking action and speaking to an adviser, consumers put themselves in the driving seat, providing peace of mind that their wishes will be put into place when they die.”