Despite the fact that having a will in place is commonly accepted as the most effective way to leave details about your inheritance, the number of people who don’t have one is remarkably high. Charity will-writing scheme, Will Aid, has found that 53% of people in the UK don’t have a will in place. The reasons for this are varied: some view making a will as something to do when they get older, others simply don’t understand why having a will in place is so essential.
Even if you have discussed with your family how you would like your estate to be administered following your death, putting it down in writing ensures clarity and reassurance for your loved ones both whilst you are still living and after your death. Not only does a will allow you to say what you would like to go to whom, as well as any charities or other causes to which you would like to make donations, but it is also your chance to make it clear who you want to act as the executors of your estate after you’re gone. Making this clear can minimise confusion and ensure the people who you trust are those in control following your death.
If you don’t have a will in place when you die, it can cause a number of problems. The estates of those who die without a will are administered following the Law of Intestate Succession. In these circumstances, spouses and civil partners have specific rights but do not automatically inherit the entire estate of their other half. Any children have inheritance rights, but more distant family members, friends and cohabitants do not. Without a will, you cannot choose who your executors will be either, losing control over how things are handled.
Simply having a will is also not enough: you need to ensure it’s both a legal document and kept up to date. Writing your own will might seem like a good way to ensure matters unfold exactly as you wish after you die, but can actually trigger legal disputes that go on for months or even years following your death. A will that hasn’t been updated for some time can also cause similar problems if it doesn’t reflect the position of both you and your family at the time of your passing. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to hire a solicitor with the expertise in this field to ensure your will is both up to date and completely legal.