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Update Your Will week

Seven out of ten parents in the North East have no legal guardian in place to care for their children in the event of their deaths

Research commissioned by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and RG Law shows 69% of parents in the North East have no legal plans in place to make sure their children are looked after, should the parents die.

According to the research, parents in the region are almost completely unaware of the risks of not identifying a legal guardian in a will. Only two out of ten (17% of) parents in the North East understand that social services or the courts can step in to decide what happens to your children if you don’t have a will in place.

SFE, a membership body of over 1,700 UK solicitors specialised in advising people planning for the future, is calling on parents to make sure they have an updated will in place ahead of Update Your Will Week 2023 (23rd – 29th January).

Donata Crossfield, Wills and Probate Director of RG Law of 3rd Floor Stamford House Piccadilly York YO1 9PP (01904 234095), explains:

“It’s alarming how many parents don’t have a will in place or haven’t appointed a legal guardian for their children. Godparents don’t count as legal guardians, so to avoid the risk of the courts deciding what happens to your children, you really should make a will and update it every five years.

“It’s crucial to keep your will up to date and take legal advice when life-changing events happen, like getting re-married or having children. Our research shows that four in ten wills in the North East are out of date, and many people in the region don’t have one in the first place.”

The new research commissioned by SFE and carried out by Censuswide also reveals:

• Only 58% of respondents in the North East have updated their will within the last five years, meaning four out of ten wills in the region are out of date.

• Around half of respondents in the North East (48%) have experienced a life changing event, such as getting married, divorced or having a child, since they last updated their will.

• Nearly one fifth (17%) of respondents in the North East know someone who has been affected by something going wrong with a will.

RG Law recommend reviewing and updating your will every five years, or when a major change in your life occurs that impacts you or your loved ones, such as divorce, marriage, a new birth or even death in the family. Having an up to date, well drafted will is crucial in ensuring your wishes are carried out in the way you’d like when you die.

SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) was founded in 1996 and is a national organisation of more than 1,700 lawyers in the UK who support older and vulnerable people. SFE members receive expert training and best practice guidance to keep them up to date with developments in the sector.

If you are unable to afford the cost of a solicitor, SFE recommends seeking advice with the Citizen’s Bureau – especially for complex wills.

Survey data (commissioned by SFE):

• In December 2022, Censuswide polled 2,109 UK adults for SFE

• In 2020, SFE polled 1,005 British adults aged 40+ to see if they had a will in place – 65% said they did.

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