While many people don’t think about making a Will until they are older or have children, there are several reasons why it is a good idea to put one in place as soon as you can. Our article “When to make a Will” explains important considerations for you.
If something happens to you and you do not have a Will, then it can cause difficulties for your family. If you put a Will in place, as well as ensuring that your money and personal possessions are passed to your choice of beneficiary, it will also reassure your loved ones to know what your wishes were.
If you don’t make a Will
If you should die without making a Will you are said to be intestate and all of your money and possessions will pass in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy (the Rules). The Rules list family members who are entitled to inherit, in a strict order. This means that some people whom you would have liked to receive something might be left out.
There is no provision under the Rules for cohabiting partners, who are not entitled to inherit anything, although they could potentially bring a claim in the courts against your estate if they believe they should have received money by way of support.
The advantages of having a Will
One of the main advantages of putting a Will in place is to let your family and friends know what your wishes are. This goes a long way to avoiding disagreements or misunderstandings and it can also be reassuring for those dealing with your death to know what you would have wanted.
When you make a Will, you can choose trusted friends or family to be your executors and to deal with the winding-up of your estate. If you do not leave a Will, then someone entitled to inherit under the Rules of Intestacy will normally have to apply to be your administrator.
You can also appoint a guardian if you have any children and you can leave any money for them in a trust until they are old enough to inherit it. You can name the trustees in your Will so that you can be sure the right people are in place to deal with matters and protect your children’s interests.
If you have children under 18 and you die without making a Will, then it will be for the court to decide who will be their guardian and there is a risk that it might not be someone you would have chosen yourself.
As well as choosing beneficiaries to receive your possessions and money, you can set out your funeral wishes in your Will. While these are not legally binding, they would usually be followed and it can be comforting for those left behind to know what you would have wanted.
If you have digital assets or social media accounts, you can appoint someone to deal with these and pass on the necessary information so that they can access them.
If you have pets, you can also nominate someone to care for them, although it is always advisable to check with them beforehand. You can also leave them a sum of money to cover the costs.
Do you need to have assets to make a Will?
You might be surprised to find how much your estate amounts to. Even if you do not have a great deal of money, your estate might benefit from an insurance payment, for example, from your workplace.
You are likely to accrue or even inherit more assets over time, and your Will can stay in place until it needs updating, for example, if you marry.
When is it particularly important to have a Will?
If you are cohabiting, your partner will not receive anything under the Rules of Intestacy. If you want to leave them anything, you will need to make a Will.
If you jointly own a property, then your share of that could also pass under the Rules, depending on the type of joint ownership you have. This could mean that the person with whom you share your home might not inherit your share, which could pass to someone else. This could cause your partner difficulties if that person wanted to sell the property.
It is also important to make a Will if you have a child so that you can be sure their inheritance is protected and that they are raised by your choice of guardian.
In the event that you marry, any previous Will automatically becomes invalid unless it specifically states that it has been made in contemplation of the marriage, so you should also make a new Will if you marry.
Making a Will
You are entitled to make a Will once you reach the age of 18. It is a straightforward process and you can simply give your lawyer a list of the people you would like to inherit your assets for them to draft the document.
Everything can be dealt with remotely and/or by webcam so there is no need to attend an office. Once it has been signed, it can be stored until needed.
Making a Will can give peace of mind to you and your loved ones and it can stay in place until it needs updating. It is a good idea to review it from time to time, particularly around the time of any major life changes such as buying a home, marrying or having children.
Putting a Will in place will give you the reassurance of knowing that you have done all you can to protect and provide for your loved ones.
At Elm Legal Services, our Wills and Trusts experts can discuss your situation with you and draw up a tailor-made Will on your behalf. We can answer any questions you may have and ensure that your Will directs your assets exactly where you want them to go.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Wills and Probate lawyers, call us now on 0117 952 0698 or Contact Us and we will be happy to explain the options available to you without obligation.