Over half of UK adults do not have a will

New research from Canada Life reveals that over half of UK adults (51%)1 have not written a will, nor are they currently in the process of writing one. This includes 13% of people who state they have no intention to write a will in the future.

Nearly a third (30%) of those 55 or over do not have a will and one in ten (9%) of those 55 or over have not made a will and have no plans to.

The top reason for not making a will is the belief of not having enough assets or wealth to warrant creating one (26%). Others feel they have plenty of time to make a will (23%), while many UK adults avoid the topic of wills as they don’t want to think or talk about death (15%) or deal with solicitors (8%). Some do not want to pay for a will (14%).

The most common worries for not having a will is leaving loved ones with a lot of paperwork to deal with (27%), the belief that an estate won’t be divided up as the person would like (23%), that the estate might take a long time to resolve (18%), and that it will create arguments (15%). Four in ten (41%) UK adults said nothing worries them about not having a will.

More than half of UK adults with a will had it written by a solicitor (55%) and around one in six (16%) have written a will themselves – 6% on a piece of paper and the remainder via an online will writing service. Almost two-thirds (61%) of those who have written their own will did not seek legal or financial advice at any part of the process.

Stacey Love, Technical Manager – Tax, Trusts and Estate Planning, Canada Life says:

“It may feel like there are many reasons not to make a will, whether that be having time on your side, not having ‘enough’ wealth to pass on, it being a cost you could do without or unfounded assumptions that your estate will be divided up equally and as you see fit, without a will in place.

“However, it’s important to look beyond the short-term pain of having to think and talk about your own mortality as writing a will, will inevitably mean a long-term gain for your loved ones, when they do not have to worry about or deal with a huge additional burden, if the worst happens.

“If you have made a will, make sure you review it every so often, and especially when big life events have taken place like a divorce. You should also consider adding what you would like to happen with your digital assets if you haven’t already. This area is often overlooked but with around 95% of us owning at least one digital asset, it is becoming increasingly important to include your social media profile, smartphones, subscriptions etc. as part of your legacy planning.

“March is free wills month, so if cost is an issue, do look into the organisations and charities which offer this service. A professional financial or legal adviser will be invaluable for offering independent advice and guidance when making or revising an existing will too.”


Notes to editors

  1. Survey conducted by Opinium among a nat rep sample of 2000 UK adults between 23rd -27th February 2024



Press enquiries should be directed to:

Elle McAtamney, Canada Life, 07913 568213, elle.mcatamney@canadalife.co.uk

About Canada Life

Canada Life is part of a group of companies controlled by Great-West Lifeco Inc., a diversified financial services holding company headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada. Through its subsidiary companies, Great-West Lifeco has operations in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Great-West Lifeco and its insurance subsidiaries have received strong ratings from major rating agencies.  Great-West Lifeco has over 38 million customers worldwide and £1.532trillion assets under administration (as at 31 December 2022).

Canada Life Limited began operations in the United Kingdom in 1903 and looks after the retirement, investment and protection needs of individuals and companies alike. As well as providing stability and security through its individual contracts, Canada Life Limited has grown and maintained its position as the market leading provider of group insurance solutions.1 Canada Life acquired Retirement Advantage on 3rd January 2018 for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition added over 30,000 retirement income and equity release customers and more than £2 billion of assets under management including a £1.5 billion block of in-force annuities to Canada Life.

Canada Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Canada Life International Limited and CLI Institutional Limited are Isle of Man registered companies authorised and regulated by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority. Canada Life International Assurance Limited and Canada Life International Assurance (Ireland) DAC are authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Stonehaven UK Limited, registered in England and Wales no. 05487702. Registered office: Canada Life Place, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 5BA.

Stonehaven UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.


  1. Canada Life MI & Swiss Re, 2022