Almost 6 in 10 people do not have a will in place

55% say Covid-19 has made them realise the importance of having a will


Published  17 March 2021
   4 min read

Over half the population (59%) have not taken steps to put a legal will in place, while 34% say they’ve been meaning to, but just haven’t gotten around to it. These are the findings of Royal London’s “Let’s Talk About Death” survey series, where over one thousand adults throughout the country were asked their views on a variety of topics related to death. 

The survey was undertaken as part of a new campaign launched by the leading protection specialist, Royal London, which aims to tackle the taboo surrounding death to encourage a vital dialogue on bereavement, to help people enjoy the time they have with those they love and to honour those lost.

Commenting on the findings Noel Freeley, CEO of Royal London in Ireland,

“It’s understandable why many people are reluctant to discuss the topic of death and dying, but this survey indicates that it’s hampering the necessary provisions to be made. While men appear to be slightly more prepared than their female counterparts, with 48% saying they have a will compared with just 34% of women, it still leaves over half the population unprepared.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were vast differences across the ages of those who participated in our survey. Of those in the 25-34 year age bracket, just 27% had made a will, while 82% of those in the 75-84 age group had. However, 55% of people said Covid-19 had made them realise how important it is to have a will in place.

“While the survey results do show that most people have a sense of when they should make a will, the majority, it seems, aren’t following through with the necessary actions. Many people have the best of intentions, with 34% saying they’ve been meaning to get around to it. Others believe they are too young (25%) and many more, 23%, have just never thought about it.”

The Royal London survey revealed that in terms of when people feel they should take measures to put their will in place, starting a family is clearly the frontrunner with 34% of respondents believing this should kickstart the process. This is followed by 17% who say entering into a marriage or civil partnership is the right time. A further 14% say it should be as early as when you enter the workforce in full time employment. Retirement is seen as a motivating factor for 8%, and 4% felt that becoming ill would prompt them to make a will.

Noel continued,

“I think what may be missing is conversation and education around planning for death. Many people may not realise that making provision for our passing does help, in many ways, to relieve some financial pressures as well as the burden of decision-making and administration on our loved ones. Putting some time and thought on these issues and preparing in advance, can bring a certain peace of mind from having your affairs in order, regardless of what stage you are at in your life, or what your current circumstances are. At Royal London, we see the enormously helpful impact making financial plans can have to support families for many years after losing a loved one.

“The reality is that death is not something that most people like to talk or even think about.  It can seem like something that’s very far off and so planning for it now seems morbid and unnecessary, or for some, it may be difficult or make the prospect all too real. There’s a lot of emotion associated with this type of “life admin” that’s very different to other types of financial planning, like taking out insurance or opening a bank account. But I do think talking about it can help. Our survey found that those who feel able to discuss death with loved ones are more likely to have a will in place, compared to those who don’t (46%:21%).”  

Royal London has an online exhibition currently available that encourages discussion about dying, celebrates life and provides vital information to help people be better prepared. The exhibition is available at

About Royal London Ireland

Royal London Ireland has a history of protecting its policyholders and their families in Ireland, and recently launched a new Pensions business in Ireland. Our business heritage in Ireland is nearly 200 years. The Caledonian Insurance Company's first office outside Edinburgh opened on Dame Street, Dublin 2 in 1824.

Today, Royal London Ireland is owned by The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited – the largest mutual life insurance, pensions, and investment company in the UK, and in the top 25 mutuals globally, with assets under management of €178 billion, 8.6 million policies in force, and 4,100 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2023.

Royal London Ireland’s office is based at 47-49 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.