Why make a Will?
By making a Will you can:
- Choose your executors, which are the people responsible for administering your estate;
- Appoint guardians for your minor children;
- State who you would like to benefit under your Will;
- Make provision for your pets;
- Leave a gift to charity;
- Leave a specific gift, for example jewellery, to a loved one;
- Specify your funeral wishes.
You can ensure that your estate can be effectively and efficiently dealt with in accordance with your wishes rather than in accordance with rigid provisions laid down in the intestacy rules.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
Without a Will in place (known as ‘Intestate’), the government decides the distribution of your estate.
The Intestacy Rules are very strict and do not take into consideration your personal circumstances or your wishes. This may result in people that you would not have chosen having control and benefiting from your estate – for example, a sister or brother you have not spoken to for years.
Whilst the law does go some way to protect spouse/civil partners and children, there is no law or automatic right for an unmarried partner/cohabitee to receive anything from a deceased partner!
Making a Will is often a much quicker, simpler process that costs far less than resolving any issues there may be after death.
Do you need to update your Will?
Personal and family circumstances often change, sometimes with remarkable speed. You should always be advised to review your Will at regular intervals to see if there have been any variations that need to be addressed.
Some examples might be:
- Birth of children – Do they need adding to the Will as beneficiaries and should provision be made in the Will for Guardians?
- Marriage – Marriage or entering into a civil partnership automatically revokes an existing Will, unless it was written in contemplation of marriage or of entering into a civil partnership. Should you die after marrying or remarrying or entering into a civil partnership without having made a new Will, you would die Intestate.
- Separation – Separation of spouses or partners may lead to a desire to change a Will to exclude any benefit passing to the estranged spouse.
- Divorce – Divorce cancels those parts of the Will which relate to the divorced spouse and basically views your ex-spouse as being ‘deceased’ for the purposes of your Will.
- Retirement – Often retirement is a point in people’s lives at which they take a different view of their property and families. Certain policies or in service death benefits may no longer apply upon retirement.
- An Inheritance – This may significantly alter the value of your estate and how you might want to dispose of it.
- Changes in the Law – This may relate to succession or taxation. Government policy and statutory adjustments may affect the importance of making a Will or prompt the need to change the existing one.
- Death – An existing Will may refer to someone who has died.