06 November 2019

Five misconceptions about Wills

5 min read

Meera Khanna, Consumer PR Manager
Meera Khanna

Corporate PR Manager - Protection


Research by mutual insurer, Royal London, found nearly three in five (57%) of UK adults do not have a Will in place.

November is Will Aid Month and Royal London tested the public’s knowledge of Wills - this revealed five misconceptions.


1. – My children will be cared for by my immediate family if I die.

Two in five (39%) people incorrectly believe that the legal responsibility for children will automatically go to the immediate family if their parent(s) were to die without a Will. Without a Will in place the legal responsibility for any dependent children under 18 would fall to the courts, until a decision is made on who will become guardians.


2. – If I separate from my spouse my assets won’t go to them.

A third (31%) of people didn’t know what would happen to their assets if they separated from their spouse. A Will is technically valid even if you separate from your spouse. Until you divorce, your spouse could still be entitled to your assets.


3. – I’m cohabiting with my partner, so they’ll inherit my assets when I die.

If you are cohabiting with a partner and not married, they would not be entitled to assets only owned by you if you were to die without a Will. If there are jointly owned assets, the other owner would normally inherit them.

Children would have a claim on the assets but if there are no children, the assets would be passed on to parents and siblings. A cohabitee has no rights under the law of intestacy (dying without a Will in place).

Royal London asked the public who would inherit the assets of someone who is cohabiting with their partner but has children from a previous marriage. Three in four (74%) either gave an incorrect answer or did not know.


4. – My Will is valid across the UK.

The research also found that around nine in ten (87%) people are not aware that a Will written in England may not be valid in Scotland. If you have written a Will in England and since moved to Scotland or vice versa, you should consider taking advice.


5. – If I’m estranged from my family, they won’t inherit my assets.

In Scotland, you cannot legally remove your spouse or children as beneficiaries even if you have a Will which doesn’t include them. Even if you are estranged from your family, they can still claim on your assets. Research reveals that two thirds (65%) of UK adults do not know this is the case in Scots law, and only one in five (21%) of those living in Scotland are aware that this rule applies in Scotland, compared to 8% of all UK adults.


Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson at Royal London, said:

“Not having a Will in place can lead to all sorts of complications, many of which the general public are not aware of. But even with a Will in place, there are misconceptions around what happens to your assets when you die. It’s important to not only write a Will, but also to make sure it reflects your wishes and to keep it up to date if your circumstances change.”



Notes to editors

  1. Research was carried out by Opinium between 18th October and 22nd October 2019. A sample of 2,006 UK adults was used and results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

For further information please contact:

Meera Khanna, Corporate PR Manager - Protection

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £139 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and 4,348 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2020.