Why you should think about writing a will
No one likes to think about their own death but writing a Will is often essential if you want your money, property and belongings to go to your loved ones.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
If you die without making a Will, you will have died intestate and the rules of intestacy will apply. These rules were created in 1925 and many people believe they do not reflect many aspects of modern living.
Rules of intestacy do not, for example, make any provision for stepchildren. Nor do they recognise partners who are neither married nor part of a civil partnership. Some people believe that a thing called ‘common law marriage’ will grant their partners certain rights if they have been living together for a certain period of time. In reality, common law marriage is a myth and has no legal basis under UK law. Close friends, carers and charities cannot benefit under the rules of intestacy either.
Under the rules of intestacy, spouses or civil partners will inherit personal belongings and the first £250,000 of any estate. If you have divorced or legally-ended the partnership, they are not entitled to inherit but if you have split up without legally dissolving the relationship, they can.
Children can inherit if there is no spouse or civil partner. They also get a share if the estate is worth more than £250,000. If there are no children, other close relatives can also inherit. If there are no blood relatives, the estate goes to the Crown instead.
How do I make a Will?
It’s possible to make your own Will. There are a number of guides available to help you and you can even make Wills online but it’s worth bearing in mind that if a Will is not legally correct, you will still be considered to have died intestate. Even a small mistake could be enough to invalidate a Will. Unless you are certain about what you are doing it is therefore important to get the right legal advice and help writing a will.
It’s also worth remembering that your situation and circumstances can change. You might have had grandchildren since the first drafting of your Will, for example, or you might have been through a divorce. Some beneficiaries may have died themselves or your assets and property may have considerably changed. You can review and change your Will at any time, giving you continual peace of mind that your estate will go exactly where you want it to when you’re no longer here.