Why should I get a will?
A Will permits you to do many things that would not be possible if you were to die intestate (without a Will). This includes specifying the person(s) who will administer your estate, giving direction to your executors as to what you would like to happen to specific assets, achieving desired tax and estate planning objectives and indicating who should look after your young children.
What happens if I die without a will?
Dying without a Will (intestate) will have various consequences. Firstly, the cost of administering your estate will be higher, and the person who is given authority to administer your assets will not necessarily be someone you would have chosen. The distribution of your estate is fixed by law, regardless of your intentions or the beneficiaries needs, with all amounts paid out to heirs as soon as they turn 18 years of age. If you have children your spouse may not inherit everything.
Can I write my own will?
Yes, in England and Wales you can write your own Will, but there are many things which could result in assets passing to persons not intended to receive them, because key Will provisions are invalid, or because the person's choice of words run contrary to a legal rule or principle of which you were unaware. The best advice is to rely on a professional to take your instructions and translate them into legally effective provisions in your will.
I live with a partner, we are not married - what happens to my estate?
Without a Will, your partner has no entitlement to keep anything that belongs to you. All of your assets will be distributed according to the law. Equally the same will apply to you, if your partner has no Will.
I'm single with no children, why do I need a will?
If you are happy with the intestacy laws and how they distribute your estate, that's fine. But also consider that not having a will means not being able to leave a personal gift to a friend or distant relative if you have other relatives that would inherit before them. You also won't be able to leave anything to charity or make arrangements for your pets, should they outlive you.
Do I have to re-write my will every time I have a child?
Generally, I will aim to write a will that is practical for a long time. So there are a lot of scenarios we will go through that might seem a little far-fetched, especially if you have young children (e.g. what happens if your child is no longer alive but has a child themselves - do you want them to inherit instead?). I can write a will that takes into account any future children, so you do not need to re-write a will from scratch, however there are certain times when you should consider reviewing your will - see next question.
When SHOULD I review or re-write my will?
There are a few key life events that should trigger a review of your will and potentially a new, updated will:
- If you are getting married or have recently married
- You have had a child/children
- You are about to or have recently inherited a large amount
- You have bought or sold property
- Your financial situation has changed significantly (either way)
- Your wishes as to who should inherit have changed
- There are changes in the law that may impact your estate
If you have a general question that is not answered here, get in touch and hopefully we can answer and add it to this list.