The sudden death of Michael Jackson demonstrates the huge importance of having a will in place – whatever your age, a senior lawyer has said.
Peter McCarthy, speaking on behalf of the consumer body Which?, warned that many people are suffering from 'will apathy'.
He hopes the death of the King of Pop will serve as a warning to Britons who are unaware that their estate could fall into the wrong hands if they do not make a will.
A will made by Jackson in 2002 has been recovered, but a protracted court battle could still take place if his former wife and mother of his two eldest children challenges for custody.
However, his will selected family members and charities which would receive his inheritance and also left his children under the guardianship of his mother Katherine.
Research by Which? found that 56 per cent of people have not made a will, with a third of this group over the age of 45.
Worryingly, 35 per cent of Britons over the age of 65 said they had not made a will because they felt they didn't need one.
Mr McCarthy said: "If you die without getting your affairs in order, your money, personal belongings and even your home could go to the person you least want to have them and your loved ones could lose out."
Some 66 per cent of consumers were unaware that if a couple are not married then their children could inherit everything if one partner dies, leaving the remaining partner with nothing – or a potential court battle with the children for a share of the estate.
Furthermore, 77 per cent were unaware that if both parents die and no will is in place, the courts could have a say in their children's future because no guardians would have been appointed.
Which? also revealed that 43 per cent were unaware that if a couple separate but do not follow through a divorce, an estranged partner could inherit the bulk of their estate over a new partner or children if they die.