What have you decided as your New Year’s resolutions this year? Why not add making a Will to your resolution list! Most of us want our wishes to be carried out after our death, yet making a Will is one of those jobs that many people put off.
Dying without a Will is easily avoidable and every adult should have a valid Will. Shockingly, 60% of adults in the UK do not yet have a Will; the reasons for this are common:
- They do not want to tempt fate
- They do not want to think about dying
- They think that everything will automatically pass to their partner
- They believe that the family will sort it out between themselves
- They do not think they own anything of significant value
- They cannot decide who to appoint as an Executor or Guardian
The reality is that drafting a Will is not difficult or as expensive as people assume and by having a Will in place, you are protecting your family from unnecessary complications at an already difficult time.
Let us look at what would happen if you were to die without a Will.
Dying without a Will
If you die without a Will, you will have no say in what happens to your estate. Instead, a process called “Rules of Intestacy” will divide your estate in a pre-determined way. This may not be carried out in the way that you would like and will not necessarily be tax-efficient.
If you live with someone, even if you are married, are in a civil partnership or have step-children, they may not automatically inherit your estate like you would potentially expect.
It does not have to be complicated!
Many of our clients have relayed statements back to us such as “well that was less painful than I expected” or “I can’t believe I have put off making a Will for so long – it is so straightforward!”
When making a Will, you can choose exactly who administers your estate (‘an executor’) and also who benefits from your estate (‘a beneficiary’). You can also include gifts of cash or property and state any specific funeral wishes that you may have.
If you have any young children, you can appoint guardians to ensure that parental responsibility continues.
You can view our flowchart on Rules of Intestacy.
Why should I use a solicitor?
Trying to make your own Will, without legal assistance, can lead to mistakes or lack of clarity and could mean that your Will is invalid. If you have complex family circumstances and have a number of beneficiaries and your finances are complicated, it is even more important that you get a professionally trained solicitor to create your Will.
Whatever your requirements, a Will can be drafted to meet your needs and once your Will has been signed in accordance with the necessary legal requirements, you can have peace of mind that your affairs are in order.
When should I update my Will?
If you have already made a Will, you should periodically check that it continues to reflect your wishes and the value of your estate. We recommend every 3-5 years is good practice to review your Will. Changes in your circumstances may also mean that your Will may also need to be updated. You should update your Will if:
- If you get married or enter a civil partnership as a Will is automatically cancelled by these events
- If you get divorced
- If you have children or other relatives you wish to benefit such as nieces, nephews or grandchildren
- If you have brought a new property or have recently obtained expensive assets (such as buying a new car)
Our Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts team is one of the largest in the region and because we have helped thousands of people, we are confident we can help you.
If you need help either making a Will or updating your current Will, please contact a member of our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team.