More than 175,000 people a year struggle to track down all the assets left by loved ones in wills, according to research from willsandassets.co.uk, a secure online service enabling people to store wills and register assets
Its nationwide study found 31 per cent of those who have lost loved ones in the past 10 years have struggled to find all their financial assets – equivalent to around 175,000 people a year in the UK.
The value of assets which may have gone missing are not trivial – on average those who fear they missed assets believe they could have lost GBP9,700 which equates to around GBP175 million left unclaimed. That is just the average – 12 per cent of those who believe money went missing think it could be GBP20,000 or more.
Tracking down the assets can be expensive – 39 per cent of those who have lost loved ones in the past 10 years have spent an average GBP2,250 on solicitors and other advisers after a death.
Part of the problem is people failing to draw up wills – research shows just 49 per cent have wills – rising to 79 per cent among those aged 65-plus. But only 36 per cent of those who have wills have updated them within the last two years and that only rises to 37 per cent for those aged 65-plus.
Willsandassets.co.uk is helping address the issue with the launch of an online national registry providing a single secure place for people to store wills, final instructions and details of their assets to make it easier for loved ones after a death.
The service is free for registering wills and charges GBP12 a year for those who wish to store details of assets and to update them regularly. Willsandassets.co.uk donates five per cent of its revenues to charity.
Stephen Foden of Willsandassets.co.uk says: “No one wants to think about what will happen when they die but failing to do so can leave loved ones with significant problems and stress at an already very tough time.
“With more than 175,000 people a year struggling to sort out loved ones’ finances there is clearly a need for better planning and our service provides a single secure place to store wills and to detail what financial assets there are and how they can be found”
Across the country people in the North East are the least likely to have wills – just 36 per cent – while those in the South East are the most likely with 55 per cent having wills. However people in Wales with wills are most likely to have updated them in the past two years.