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Pandemic drives engagement in will preparation, but over 45 million have still not taken action

The global pandemic has prompted UK adults to draw up important legal documents relating to their death and end of life care for the first time. However, 45.2 million still haven’t started the process of writing a will or a living, according to new research from Canada Life1.


The research revealed that over the last year, 4.9 million people have written a will, 4.1 million people have written a living will and 5.4 million have changed or added guardians for their dependents to their existing will. In addition, 4.6 million people have engaged a solicitor or the Office of the Public Guardian to register a lasting power of attorney, while 4.1 million have completed an Expression of Wish form for their pension.


Despite these positive steps, millions of UK adults are yet to start drawing up any of these crucial documents, leaving families facing lengthy, often costly probate and trying to work out the final wishes of the deceased.


Worryingly, a significant proportion of those who are yet to start this process are over 55 years old, while those aged between 18-34 years old have been more proactive in preparing ahead.



Total number of UK adults who have not completed this process

Number of 18-34 year olds who have not completed this process

Number of over 55 year olds who have not completed this process

Written a will

29.5 million

10.9 million

7.8 million

Written a living will

44 million

10.8 million

19.1 million

Engaged a solicitor or Office of the Public Guardianship to register a lasting power of attorney

40.9 million

11.1 million

16.3 million

Completed an Expression of Wish form for their pension

39.4 million

10.9 million

15.6 million


Neil Jones, tax and estate planning specialist, 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.”




  1. Source: Research among 2002 UK adults conducted by Opinium Research between 9-12 March 2021. Grossed up values were calculated by dividing those that said this option by the total sample size, then multiplied by the total number of adults aged 18+ in the UK. For example, 1,718 said they have never written a will or a living will / 2,002 total UK adult sample * 52,673,000 UK adult population = 45,200,906 UK adults