By Claire West

Almost nine out of every ten (87%) under 35s do not have a will in place, falling to two thirds (67%) of those aged between 35 and 54. Worryingly, still over a third (36%) of those over 55 are still without a will in place, research by the professional advice website Unbiased.co.uk has shown.

What about the children?
Shockingly, 70% of adults with children under 18 do not currently have a will in place, rising from 65% last year. Under current rules, children not named in a will are only entitled to an inheritance if there is no surviving spouse of the deceased or if the estate is worth more than £250,000. Despite this, over half (57%) of those without a will would like to leave some assets to their children and 69% would like to leave some assets to another relative.

Only 6% of people without a will name 'having children' as a trigger to drawing up a will - highlighting the huge misconception on inheritance rules and leaving a worrying number of children largely unprotected.

Spouses and civil partners
While over three quarters (76%) of responses for those who are married said they wanted to leave their assets to their spouse after they die, a spouse or civil partner only automatically inherits £250,000 if there is no will in place. Over a third (38%) of those who aren't married would like to leave their assets to their partner after they die, but unmarried couples have no right to inherit at all if there is no will in place.

Why no will?
Apathy remains the number one reason for not writing a will, with over a third (36%) stating they just haven't got round to sorting it yet, and 8% saying it never occurred to them. Almost one fifth (18%) don't think they have anything of value to leave behind.

Although the average cost of seeking legal advice to write a will can be as low as £120 for singles and £200 for couples***, almost one in ten (7%) have not done so because they are worried about the cost involved. A worrying one in ten (10%) of Britons even claim they don't plan to ever make a will.

Dying intestate means there is a strict order of who gets what, and if no one comes forward then it all falls to the Crown. Not having a will in place could also result in inheritance tax being due before the estate is released, so your grieving family may be forced to take out expensive loans in order to release the assets.

Karen Barrett, Chief Executive of unbiased.co.uk, "Thinking about the possibility of something bad happening to you is never an easy topic but nevertheless, it is hugely important. Our research clearly shows that the nation is gripped by 'wills apathy', leaving a large proportion of spouses, partners and children unprotected should anything happen to a partner or parent.