Spotting grey hair triggers almost a fifth of Britons to make a will, according to new research.
Nearly one-in-five men and women only consider what will happen to their money, property and possessions once their locks start to whiten.
Until the onset of a greying mop, the majority of under-40s “just don’t see the need” for a will – even after major milestones like getting married, buying a house or having children.
But 17 per cent admit the “time is probably right” to make one when silver tufts start appearing and “dye becomes a viable proposition”, a poll of 750 adults reveals.
The nationwide study by new will writing service AdviserWill.org.uk also found that people under the age of 30 are “clueless” about the role of executors and about what probate actually entails.
And worryingly, over three-quarters did not understand what dying ‘intestate’ – without a will – means, and the consequences of doing so on loved ones.
Stacey Charlton of AdviserWill said the findings reflect a growing apathy, especially among young people, towards including a will on their “ultimate bucket list”.
She said: “Making a will is one of the most important legacies we will ever leave. It tells everyone what should happen to your property, money and other possessions when you die.
“This makes these findings even more remarkable in that such large numbers of people appear to be clueless about why a will is necessary, and what happens if you die without one.”
She added: “It is even more remarkable that significant landmarks in a person’s life, like getting married, are not the most important factors for some people in deciding when to make a will.
“Rather, a major influence for many appears to be the prospect of going grey, which is hardly a matter of life and death.”
The study questioned 750 Britons aged between 18 and 40 in a bid to determine the age at which Britons recognise their own mortality.
Some 78 per cent and 68 per cent of respondents respectively agreed that young people under the age of 30 neither understand the benefits of making a will nor appreciate the financial consequences of dying intestate.
On average, the majority (57 per cent) of respondents who had made a will did so at the age of 38. Nearly a fifth of these (17 per cent) said the decision was influenced by the signs of “getting old” – the onset of “grey hair, wrinkles and physical ailments”.
Most wanted to provide for partners, children and friends after their death, with 85 per cent also wishing to reduce inheritance tax.
But everyone with a will said they wanted to keep their estates “out of the government’s coffers” and to help loved ones deal with their affairs more easily.
Of the 43 per cent of respondents without a will, only a quarter (24 per cent) understood the role of the executor, and knew what the terms ‘probate’ and ‘intestate’ meant.
For some without a will, the mere idea of mortality was absurd. When asked to list all of the reasons why they didn’t have one, 44 per cent claimed to be “too young to die just yet”.
Other common answers included having “nothing to bequeath” (43 per cent), and being “too busy” to draw one up (68 per cent).
The majority (27%) of those without a will said they would probably make one at the age of 57 or over.
When questioned about their reasoning, and presented with multiple choice answers, 95 per cent said they would “probably be married by then”, have dependants (92 per cent), or require one because of ill health (51 per cent).
Just 12 per cent of those questioned had seriously considered their own funeral, and only 67 per cent of those in a relationship had discussed the consequences in the event that one or both parties should die.
“Until relatively recently, making a will could prove to be a complicated and costly process,” Charlton said.
“But the advent of reputable online providers now makes the process quick, easy and cost-efficient.”