If you don’t have a will, the law decides who gets what. You may also be unable to make use of inheritance tax exemptions.
Here, we explain:
Protecting those we care about is something we do naturally during our lifetime. Putting a will in place is a way to carry on protecting them after we’re gone.
Here are our top 5 reasons for making a will:
It's tempting to keep putting off writing a will. But it makes sense to do it now while you’re thinking about it. That way, you can enjoy the feel-good factor of getting this task off your to-do list.
Some people choose to write a will after a major life event such as getting married or having children. That way you can rest easy, knowing your loved ones will be looked after in the way you want.
It’s important to update your will to make sure it reflects any changes in your life.
If you were to die without a valid will in place, your estate would be shared out under certain rules – known as ‘intestacy rules’. The law decides who should deal with your affairs and who gets to inherit what. This could be different from your own wishes.
While the intestacy rules vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, these broad principles apply throughout the UK:
The only way to make sure your wishes are met after you die, is to create a legally-binding will. This is true for everyone, but is especially important if you have people who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave things to people outside your family.
These people are known as your beneficiaries. It’s also worth considering what you’d like to happen if any of your beneficiaries were to die before you and whether you want to leave any money to charity.
This applies if you have children under the age of 18, or those with specific needs.
These people are known as the executors and you can have up to 4.
When it comes to actually writing your will, you can:
A specialist solicitor or other regulated professional is likely to know wills, probate and inheritance laws inside out. This is usually the most expensive option. However, if you have complex needs – and particularly if you have children under 18, you’re previously bereaved or a business owner – having a will prepared by a legal professional can give you peace of mind.
This is usually a cheaper option than using a solicitor and could be suitable if your needs are fairly straightforward.
Remember, will writers are not normally regulated and may not offer the same level of protection as a legal professional so you might want to look for someone who’s a member of a professional organisation.
You can use either an online DIY will-writing service or a ready-made template. However, this should only be considered if you have very simple wishes, such as everything to your spouse.
When writing your will, follow the rules carefully to make sure your will is legal, otherwise it won’t be valid. Also, make sure family members or friends know where to find it. For a will to be valid, you need to:
You may need 2 witnesses to sign your will, or 1 witness, depending on where you live in the UK. Witnesses must:
For example, you could have a family friend or neighbour as your witness.
The cost of a making a will depends on the kind of will you’re writing and if you’re using a solicitor, a will writing service or writing it yourself. For example, a specialist will which includes a trust, will cost more than a simple will.
You can shop around to find the right solicitor and cost to suit your budget. You may want to get a few quotes, and then pick the one that can offer you a good service at a good price.