Your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die. It also identifies who will be responsible for organising your estate and following the instructions in your will – this person is known as your ‘executor’. Your executor will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed, as long as they don’t involve breaking the law.
If you don’t leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on, and this might not be in line with your wishes.
If you’re not already convinced, here are our top reasons for making a will.
If you don’t write a will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law, which isn’t always the way you might want. When you die without leaving a will, the law decides who gets what and how much, regardless of your relationships with those people prior to your death. Estranged members of your family may take your estate, for example, instead of the loved ones you wish to receive your inheritance.
If you are not married and not in a civil partnership, your partner is not legally entitled to anything when you die unless you make a will. Similarly, if you are married, your spouse may inherit most of your estate and your children may receive nothing. This is still the case even if you are separated but not divorced.
If you die with no living close relatives, your whole estate belongs to the Crown or the Government, unless you make your wishes known in a will.
Making a will is a straightforward task in most cases, especially if your family is small and you want to leave everything to them. If your situation is more complicated – for example, if you have a second family or you want to leave money and gifts to lots of people – you’ll need to plan more carefully. For a will to be valid, it needs to meet certain conditions, so its best to get an expert to do this for you.
DIY will kits are available on the high street for as little as £10, but it can be a risky approach. If errors are made or the strict witnessing rules are not adhered to, the document could be invalid. Not only does this put you at risk of leaving your family with a financial and emotional mess, but your legacy could be eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax.
Either way, its important not to put off making your will to make sure that what you leave behind will go to the people you intended.
Start by thinking about what you want to leave to whom and then talk to your family – they might have some suggestions you haven’t thought of. We can then write your will for you to ensure that your wishes will be carried out and in the most beneficial way possible, not matter how complex your situation.