Why should I make a will?

What is a will?
A will is a legal document setting out what you want to happen when you die. For example:-

Who will inherit your assets?
Who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions in your will?
Who will be your children’s guardians?
Matters relating to your funeral.

It is estimated that more than 65% of people die without a will.

Why should you make a will?
1. To make sure that your assets pass where you want them to.
If you die without a will (intestate) the law decides this – not you.
The law only passes assets to blood relations and spouses and civil partners.
Without a will your partner to whom you are not married and not in a civil partnership would get nothing under the intestacy laws.
People who you consider family but are not blood relations (e.g. step-children) would get nothing.
Without a will a charity cannot receive a gift from you after your death.

2. To protect your children.
If you die without a will your children may not receive anything if you are married.
In the absence of instructions from a last living parent, a child under 18 will have a guardian appointed by a court. Appointing a guardian in your will ensures your wishes are followed.
Children who inherit under the intestacy laws receive their money at 18. If you make a will you can arrange for the monies to be held on behalf of a child until an age which you think is suitable (e.g. 21 or 25).

3. To avoid or reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable when you die.

4. To protect your family from unnecessary problems, uncertainty and financial worry, all of which could have a detrimental effect on ongoing relationships.

The vast majority of people make more than one will over the course of their lifetime.

It is important to review your will from time to time but always in the following circumstances:-

  1. You get married or enter into a civil partnership

    If your will was not stated to be made in expectation of your marriage or civil partnership then your will automatically ends when you get married or enter into a civil partnership. Unless you make a new will you will therefore die without a will and the laws of intestacy will determine what happens to your assets.

  2. You get divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved

    Any gift in your will to your former spouse or civil partner will automatically become invalid from the date of your divorce/the dissolution of your civil partnership. Also, if you appointed your former spouse or civil partner as your executor this will no longer be valid. You should make a new will to reflect your new circumstances.

  3. You separate from your spouse or partner

    Separation, judicial separation and separation orders have no effect on a will. However, if you no longer want your spouse or partner to inherit from you or be your executor you need to update your will.

  4. If your executor or a beneficiary under your will dies

    Your will may already provide for what happens in the event of the death of your executor or a beneficiary. If it does not, you may need to change your will.

  5. You have new additions to your family

    Is an exciting time when your family expands to include new children or grandchildren. You may want to change your will to include new family members. Parents with children under 18 should always think about appointing a guardian (although this does not need to be part of a will).

  6. Your assets have changed significantly

    Sometimes wills need updating because you either have more assets than you used to or because you no longer have the assets you used to have (e.g. you have sold your home).

If you have any concerns about your will please do not hesitate to contact one of our Private Client Team.