The findings come from a survey of a nationally representative panel of 1,002 Australian mortgagors commissioned by financial comparison service comparethemarket.com.au. Respondents were asked if they had a will, when they organised one, or why they had not organised a will.
The survey found that 48 per cent of Australian mortgagors do not have a will, which could put the people who were intended to benefit from the mortgagor’s assets at risk of not receiving what was intended for them.
The comparison service asked the 519 respondents with a will at which life stage they drew up the legal document. Nearly a third (30 per cent) said they arranged their will around the time of home ownership.
Specifically, 15 per cent arranged a will when they purchased their first property, while another 15 per cent did so between one and five years of buying their first property, and 13 per cent did so more than five years after buying their first property.
Among those who have a will, only 11 per cent organised it before buying their first property.
“This suggests that buying one’s first home and securing a mortgage is a significant milestone, understandable with the average Australian mortgage sitting at $384,000,” comparethemarket.com.au said.
The survey also revealed that those aged between 18 and 40 have been motivated to get a will after purchasing property rather than entering a live-in relationship.
In recent years, 55 per cent of first home buyers have been home owners under the age of 35. A quarter of those aged between 18 and 29, and 24 per cent of those aged between 30 and 39 made a will around the time they purchased their first property.
Nearly a third or 31 per cent of mortgagors under the age of 30 already have a will.
Comparethemarket.com.au spokesperson Abigail Koch said: “While the life stage at which we organise a will is an individual decision, the data shows that a property purchase or extension of their family are the major reasons mortgage-holders have organised this important legal document.
“Those who don’t have a will could leave their assets open to contestation by family members seeking a greater share of their estate. Each state in Australia exercises different laws around wills, and how assets are distributed when there is no will in place.”
One in six respondents, or 15 per cent, said they made a will once they had children, when they were married or when they entered a de facto relationship.
While 23 per cent of those in their 50s said they made a will when they had children, 24 per cent of over-70s arranged a will after they entered marriage or a de facto relationship.
When respondents who don’t have a will were asked why they have not organised it, 61 per cent said they simply have not got around to it, 15 per cent believe they do not need it and 13 per cent believe their assets will automatically go to their partner or family when they die.
Among those over 70, 29 per cent said they have not organised a will because of the cost.
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.