Homes across Britain are filled with "buried treasure", but a majority of people still don't plan for what will happen when they pass away according to new research from Saga Legal Services. Almost a quarter (22%) of British people have hidden more than £5,000 worth of valuables in their homes, but 72 percent are yet to make a plan to pass these over meaning precious items could be accidentally discarded or chronically undervalued after death.

The research also revealed the unusual places Britons hide their valuables. Submerged in a pond, tucked behind a mirror or painting, and, possibly the most unusual of all, inside a hollowed out table leg, are all among the unexpected places Britons store their priceless items. Whilst a fifth of Britons hide items in a locked drawer, 12 percent seclude items in everyday objects such as biscuit tins or books. The research also worryingly highlights that almost a quarter (23%) hide their valuables in “plain sight”.

It's not just objects either: love letters, souvenirs from childhood and recipes are all cherished items which could be discarded if not correctly stored and signposted. The same is true of crucial documents such as wills, deeds and life insurance policies which must be securely stored. If these cannot be found after death, loved ones could face economic hardship and emotional turmoil. Those who don't currently have a will are strongly advised to make one to protect their family, and to reduce costs as much as possible by shopping around and agreeing a fixed price up front.

The results of the research coincide with a campaign encouraging people to talk to their friends, family and the executors of their will explaining where their valuables are stored and how much they are worth. To help with this, Saga Legal Services has released a "treasure map" designed to be stored alongside a will so all valuables can be located when the time comes. The treasure map can be downloaded for free from www.saga.co.uk/legal.

Top ten hiding places:

1. In a safe (40%)

2. In “plain sight” (23%)

3. In a locked drawer (20%)

4. Back of a wardrobe (13%)

5. Inside an everyday object (a book, biscuit tin, an old paint tin etc) (12%)

Jewels (PD)6. Underwear drawer (9%)

7. In the attic (9%)

8. In a kitchen cupboard(6%)

9. Under a mattress (5%)

10. Under the floorboards (4%)

Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning for Saga Legal Services says:

“It's easy to assume our valuables will automatically pass to who we want when we die, but this isn't always the case if items are hidden. When we do store something in a “safe place”, this can make it more difficult for loved ones to find which is why it is vital that we inform our friends and family where they are stored to avoid them being given away or lost. The Saga Legal Services treasure map is a handy tool for people to list and value their items, helping to ensure nothing goes missing."

The Saga Legal Services Guide to Chatting About Chattels sets out the risks of not listing important valuables and documents, and includes a "treasure map" to help people tell loved ones about their various hiding places. For more information or to download a free copy of the guide, please visit www.Saga.co.uk/Legal.

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