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Why Do I Need a Will Anyway? Assessing the Impact of a Public Legal Education Intervention Embedded in a Longitudinal Survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2018

Pascoe Pleasence
Faculty of Laws, University College London E-mail:
Nigel J. Balmer
Faculty of Laws, University College London E-mail:
Catrina Denvir
Centre for Legal Innovation, Ulster University E-mail:


In England and Wales less than half of the adult population report that they have a will, with similarly low numbers found in other jurisdictions. Dying intestate can have profound implications on the family relationships, housing security, finances, employment, health and welfare of those who are left behind. Social policy initiatives designed to educate the public on the implications of intestacy offer a potential solution but remain difficult to evaluate. This article explores the results of a public legal education experiment embedded in a longitudinal panel survey. The experiment was designed to explore: (1) the impact of information provision on will creation; and, (2) how ‘opportunistic experiments’ embedded in longitudinal surveys might support public legal education (PLE) evaluation. Whilst the impact of the information intervention in this study was not found to be statistically significant, the methodology points to the possibility of testing more bespoke and substantial initiatives in the future.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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