Research shows that six in 10 adults don’t have a will. Many people believe that it doesn’t really matter because when they die, their family and friends will decide who benefits from their estate. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Dying without a will means you ‘die intestate’ so it makes no difference what promises you’ve made or who you want to receive your assets, it’s the law which decides who benefits, not you.
All too often people put off making a will because they believe they don’t have enough money or that death is a long way off. But if you died tomorrow, who would have your home, your car, your jewellery, even your pet, for example? The point is, you don’t need vast sums of money or a portfolio of properties; as long as you’re over 18, you’re never too young, too poor or too busy to make your will.
The Law Commission is currently reviewing the will making process to ascertain if it can be made friendlier and more relevant for a modern 21st century society, but that shouldn’t put you off making your will now. We’ve listed some reasons why it’s so important:
- It doesn’t matter who you’ve promised what, if you have no will it’s the law which decides who benefits from your legacy
- We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; money changes people. It’s an ugly truth, but making a will helps prevent family disputes and fall outs after you’ve gone
- Dying without a will can leave your estate liable for inheritance tax
- Beware the DIY will. They don’t take into account the complexities of the law and could come back to bite somewhere that hurts. Like your loved ones bank balance because they’ll have to pay to rectify any mistakes
- Refresh it. Every few years take a look at your will to make sure it’s still current. Have you married or remarried? Had children or got divorced? If so, you’ll need to update it
- If you’ve remarried and you have children from a previous relationship, unless you stipulate it in your will, your estate will go to your spouse, which could mean that your children are bypassed when you die
- If you’ve split from your partner and have entered into a new relationship with someone else, it doesn’t matter if you live together; if you’re not married, or in a civil partnership, you’re new partner isn’t legally entitled to anything
- Worse still, if you’ve split from your ex acrimoniously, but haven’t divorced yet, it’s irrelevant if you can’t stand the sight of each other, they’re still in line to inherit everything if you haven’t changed your will because technically you’re still married. Think on
- It’s not as expensive as you might think, especially if you’re planning to draft a joint will (also known as a mirror will) as they’re often discounted
- Make sure you use a legal professional, they’re regulated and insured
- If you like, a solicitor can store the original version of your will and you can keep a copy of it. Just make sure you tell your family where it is
- After all that, please, please, please make sure you sign it. Without your signature on the dotted line, your will isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on