One of the questions we hear most is 'why do I need a will?'

You might have briefly thought about it at some point, but just never got round to it.   

You might even think you have nothing to leave, so what is the point?  Or, like you have no one to leave anything to?

It is way too early to even start considering it, right?

Or, because you have been living with your partner for years, everything you have will surely be passed to them?

We have heard all these reasons for not writing a Will, so you’re not on your own! In fact, an estimated 27 million adults in England and Wales do not have a Will in place.

But if you look at it from another point of view, it might make you think again.

Your loved ones will have enough to deal with when you die. Do you really want to make it even tougher for them, just because you did not prepare?

No, of course you don’t.

With our explanation, you will see that writing a Will isn’t as difficult as you might think. And it really is important that you consider it as early as possible, so that nothing interferes with your future planning. From your home and finances through to your loved ones, children and even pets, you can get on with the rest of your life, knowing it’s all sorted, and everything will happen as you wish.

What is a Will?

A Will, or ‘Last Will and Testament,’ is a legal document which ensures that when you die, everything you own goes exactly where you want it to.

Without a Will in place, neither your wishes nor those of your family will be considered. The decision as to how your 'estate' (the legal term for everything you own) will be divided is in the hands of the Government through the ‘Rules of Intestacy.’

It could mean that your property and possessions are passed to family members who do not need them, and the loved ones who you would have wished to benefit may lose out.  This includes an unmarried partner, regardless of how long you have been together, or even whether you have children together ('common-law partner' does not exist in law).

'Why do I need a will?'  The Reasons

Your choice – it will give you peace of mind knowing that YOU decide how your assets will be shared, and where your estate will go.

Executor – you also decide who you want to appoint as your Executor. This is the named person(s) responsible for dealing with your estate, so make sure they are reliable and trustworthy.

Children – the law does not take account for stepchildren, foster children, or any other dependents under 18 who may rely on your support. So, including a named legal Guardian(s) in your Will ensures the person/people you want to look after your children will be able to do so, without the decision going to family courts.     

Unmarried Partners – contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common-law wife or partner.’ So, as unfair as it may seem, an unmarried partner may lose out completely if you have no Will in place to protect them. They are not entitled to anything unless you have stated your wishes in your Will. Not even the family home you may have been living in for many years together.

Avoid Family Disputes – bereavement is one of the most traumatic experiences, which can heighten tension and emotion even in the calmest of people. By having your exact wishes specified within your Will, any additional and unnecessary stress is removed from your loved ones. And they are left without any difficult decisions to make about how your estate should be handled. Putting it bluntly, your word is final!

Financial Planning – not only is the future of your estate planned out, you can also plan for your children’s finances too. Setting up a Trust allows you to control their inheritance. This avoids any doubt or influence over when and how their inheritance can be accessed.

You can also avoid your loved ones paying more Inheritance Tax than is necessary by careful planning. Anything left to a spouse or Civil Partner is exempt. And inheritance left to children or grandchildren is calculated at a lower rate.

Allocating some of your estate to a charity will not only benefit them but will also reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax due.

Funeral Arrangements – being such an emotive subject, funerals are often the cause of family disagreements. They’re also often not discussed for fear of ‘tempting fate.’ But if included within your Will, your wishes are clear as to whether you would like a burial or cremation; which music you choose; flower arrangements, etc. And, in some cases, whether you want a funeral at all. Families are often surprised to learn that the deceased wants nothing other than a private cremation.

Remember, whatever you want, it is your wish not theirs and a will makes everything clear.

What to do with Your Will

Once your Will is prepared, keep it in a safe place. Tell your Executor and/or family member where it is (you may choose to engage a Solicitor to hold a copy).

Remember any significant life changes may mean amendments to your Will. Moving to a new house, marriage, separation, divorce, having children, etc, may affect your estate. So, a codicil will apply (an addition, amendment, or supplement to your original Will), or you may need to produce a new version.

It is worth reviewing your Will every five or so years just to make sure it is up to date still.

Next Steps

Creating a will really is not as daunting as it may first seem once you break it down. And you will hopefully now see that the reasons for preparing your Will outweigh the reasons against it. So, do not be put off. It is such a sense of relief knowing everything is taken care of and you can get on with living.

If we have answered 'why do I need a will' for you, why not arrange a call or an appointment with one of our experts on financial planning or will writing.We will be happy to talk you through everything and help you ensure your wishes will be fulfilled when the time comes.