PEOPLE’S reluctance to think about dying means millions risk leaving their loved ones with a financial mess to unravel after they are gone.

According to Lloyds TSB, six out of 10 adults with online accounts have not talked to their next of kin about them, while eight out of 10 under 45s and nine out of 10 under 35s have not written a will.

Meanwhile, almost half of all parents with children still at home have no plans for what is to happen if they are orphaned, potentially leaving up to three million youngsters without a legal guardian.

Four out of 10 people who took part in Lloyds TSB’s research admitted they had never spoken to their loved ones about their personal and financial affairs in the event of their death. Men were least willing to talk, with 43 per cent avoiding the subject compared to 34 per cent of women.

The bank attributes people’s lack of preparation to the fact that longer life expectancy is lulling them into thinking they have more time to prepare than may turn out to be the case.

Managing director Robin Bulloch said: “It’s not easy for anyone to think about a time when they won’t be around, and often even tougher to talk about it.

“But our research shows that those who are left to organise the financial affairs of a loved one once they’ve passed away could be facing a challenging task.

“Either wills are not set out, accounts are not easily located or children are without legally binding guardianship. During what’s already a difficult time, this can add further pressure and upset.”

Among the 55 per cent of all adults who do have a will, the start of the year is a popular time for making changes.

Co-op Legal Services said it handled 71 per cent more will amendments in January 2017 than in December 2016.

James Antoniou, the Co-op’s head of wills, said: “Christmas brings people together but it can also lead to conflicts and family fallouts. As a result of this, we tend to see a peak in will amendments coming through in January.”

It is also a busy month for new wills. Mr Antoniou said: “Following on from a holiday period, people have often had time to reflect and consequently make the decision to start to get their finances in order for the New Year.”

No one likes to dwell on the prospect of their own death, but if you want things to be as trouble free as possible for those left behind, it is necessary to make some basic preparations.

Insurer Royal London says more than 40 million adults have not organised their important financial information.

The firm’s consumer spokesperson, Mona Patel, said: “The last thing you’d want is for your family to struggle to locate and deal with your finances. Perhaps a first step could be writing an ‘after I’m gone list’, to make it easier for loved ones to deal with your finances.”

When planning your will, spell out your wishes as clearly and concisely as possible – a confusing document could cause as many problems as having none at all.

You can write your own using a kit from stationers or an online template, but if you want to be certain it is legally watertight, get it done by a solicitor.

To save time, and so reduce the cost, note down in advance what you want to include. Make a list of beneficiaries and the amount of money or specific property or possessions each is to have.

Think carefully about who to appoint as executors. They will be legally responsible for carrying out your instructions, so need to be trustworthy, diligent and willing. You must have at least one, but it is better to have two or more, particularly if your affairs are complex or disagreements possible.

If you are married or with a partner and have very similar wishes, it can make sense to draw up “mirror” wills, which reflect each other.

If you have children under 16, make clear how they are to be provided for and who should look after them.

If you have pets, do not forget to include what is to happen to them, and if you want to leave something to a favourite charity, detail that too.

Review the contents of your will every couple of years, or after any significant life changes, to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes, and do not forget to tell your next of kin where it is stored.