More than half of British parents with dependent children have made no will, a new survey has revealed.
The study, carried out by Will Aid, which runs a will-writing campaign for charity every year, found that 53% of mums and dads have not prepared this vital piece of paperwork, effectively leaving their kids without guardianship.
With 40,000 children bereaved of a parent each year in the UK – 110 a day – this means many are being left to the mercy of the courts.
Peter de Vena Franks, campaign director for Will Aid, said:
“If you die without appointing a guardian, and there is no other parent with parental responsibility, the court will decide who is appointed to look after your child.
“In some cases this can be a person neither related or known to the child.
“Preparing a correctly worded will with a solicitor is the only way to prevent this potentially distressing situation from occurring and yet so many parents are finding reasons not to get this important piece of paperwork done.”
The Will Aid poll found that of the 53% of parents with no will, 54% said they had not found time to do it, 19% thought they were too young to bother and 18% didn’t want to think about death.
A further 21% don’t think they have anything of value to leave behind while and 13% thought it unnecessary.
Mr de Vena Franks said:
“Do not assume that if you do not assign a guardian, the court will automatically grant custody to aunts, uncles, or even grandparents of a child.
“A will provides the best way for a parent or parents to leave instructions about who they would like their child to be cared for in the event of their death.
“And Will Aid provides the perfect opportunity to do this.”
Will Aid Month, which takes place every November, encourages people to write a will and take part in a fantastic fundraiser at the same time.
Law firms to pledge their time to write basic wills, with clients donating the fee to nine charities supported by Will Aid instead.
The recommended donation for your basic Will Aid will is £95 for a single will and £150 for a pair of mirror wills.
Those who wish to book a will can make their November appointments now.
Last year Will Aid raised more than £1 million for its charity partners – ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland).
The campaign has raised more than £17 million in donations since it started.
This year the campaign – My Last Words – invites people to post their “last words” online accompanied by the hashtag #MyLastWords to encourage people to open up channels of communication on what can be a very emotive subject.