New findings released today by Cancer Research UK show that three in five people (61%) have never updated their will. This is despite the fact that almost two thirds (63%) have a will more than five years old and a third (33%) over ten years old.

The charity is urging people to make sure their will is up to date and when doing so to consider leaving a gift to charity. Legacies are vitally important to the charity sector, which receives around a third of its voluntary income, £1.5 billion in 2005, in this way. Despite this, only one fifth (19%) of those questioned had left a gift to charity in their will.

The survey carried out by Cancer Research UK found that many people did not update their will even with a significant change in their personal lives. A change in family circumstances was the most common reason for a will to be out of date, cited by three quarters (75%) of those with an out of date will. Over half (58%) of those who were divorced and 85% of those who were separated had not updated their will.

Of those with children whose wills were out of date, over two fifths (42%) said this was because people they now plan to leave to are not included in their will, which could suggest their will had not been updated since their children were born.

Paul Farthing, Director of Legacies at Cancer Research UK, commented: “Maintaining an up to date will should be a key element of everyone’s financial planning. It’s important to make sure, particularly as personal circumstances change, that it’s always in line with your current wishes. While many of those who have an out of date will may be planning to revisit it when they get older, it’s important for everyone, whatever stage they are at, to make sure their will is always kept up to date. The laws dictating how your estate will be divided up if you die with an out of date will are complex, and may not be as you would expect.”

Encouragingly, of those with a will, 16% said it was out of date because it did not include a gift to charity that they now intend to make.

Farthing continued: “Leaving a gift to charity is a simple yet impactful way for anyone to support a good cause. We would like to encourage everyone who needs to update their will to consider leaving a charitable legacy when they’re doing so.”

For more information on leaving a legacy to Cancer Research UK call 020 7121 6697 or visit our legacies homepage.


For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Flanagan or Anna Hilton on 020 7061 8308 / 8314 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


Cancer Research UK

Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.

  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit our homepage.


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