Unfortunately the need for making a Will is a question asked and dismissed by almost two thirds of the UK; a scarily large figure when you consider the consequences of not having one in place. Without a legally written Will, potentially all your assets; that’s your home, savings, personal possessions, shares and even your car, could be distributed to people you may not wish to have them.
It’s what is known as “dying intestate”, which means that your assets are divided up according to a set of rather antiquated legal rules that have been in place for many years and certainly don’t take into account the more changeable lives we live today.
So why is making a Will important?
As we get older our lives change; we could find a partner, get married, have children, separate, possibly find another partner who we choose to live with, have step-children, buy a home, have life insurance, a pension, have grandchildren – the list of possibilities is endless!
However straightforward or complex your life may be, at the end of the day we just don’t know what’s around the corner. Writing a Will gives you the security of knowing that everything you and potentially your partner wish to happen to your assets happens and that the people you care for are protected, rather than leaving it for the law and a judge to decide.
When should I make a Will?
Do you think like many others that a Will is only for the older generation who have spent years amassing considerable assets? Think again.
Being married, divorced, living with someone, having children and grandchildren or buying a house are all significant triggers for making a Will.
For example if you have a partner but are not married, did you know that if you were to die, your surviving partner would have absolutely no rights to your assets whatsoever; regardless of how long you have lived together?
How easy is making a Will?
Writing a Will is much easier than you may think.
There are many options available to you, from DIY Will kits to face to face meetings with your local solicitor; you just need to think about your needs and how complex your situation is.
If you are looking for a face to face meeting, then your local solicitor or bank may be the best place to start but this could also be the most expensive option.
There are many online and telephone services available that offer a cheaper solution but do your home work and check that the service provided is by a fully qualified person as you need to be sure that your Will is legally valid. My advice is to make sure that they are members of the Society of Will Writers.
As for DIY Wills, if your requirements are simple then this may be suitable but to ensure there are no pitfalls, it may make sense to get the document checked by a professional once complete.
How much does a Will cost?
You can expect to pay up to £150 for a standard single Will, but prices vary depending on its complexity and whether you wish to make it a joint Will that covers two people, also known as a Mirror Will.
Online Wills start from around £10, for which you get a basic Will template but as no-one qualified checks the document, this may be false economy in the long run.
Other telephone and online services will cost more but provide professional advice and hand holding so could be worth paying that bit more for.
Whatever you do, check that the company you use is either, a member of the Law Society or Society of Will Writers, as both offer professional advice and you will also be protected by their indemnity insurance should anything go wrong.
How do I get started?
First decide on your budget, then make a list of all your possessions and assets and where you would like them to go. You will also need to appoint a couple of Executors (these are people that will ensure your wishes are implemented) who can be members of your family or friends. Some people choose to have their solicitor acting as executor which is fine, but you will of course pay for this service.
It’s a good idea to also detail what type of funeral you wish to have, although an increasing number of people are doing this with prepaid funeral plans which allow you to specify your requirements, as a Will isn’t always read until after the funeral.
Don’t put it off - take action today
Now you’ve taken time to read this, take the next step and make a Will today.
Most qualified professional Will Writers will also be able to advise you on whether you need to think about the implications of paying inheritance tax on your estate and what you can do to protect your assets. Do seek professional advice though before putting any plans in place such as setting up trusts or taking out life insurance.
Making a Will is often perceived as a daunting task, but the reality is somewhat different. Once you have one in place you will have peace of mind knowing that your assets will go to the right people although having said that, you shouldn’t just rest there. Life continues to change so it is always a good idea to review your Will every few years, especially if you have remarried, got divorced or maybe have grandchildren.
In fact it is worth keeping this in mind when you first make your Will as some companies give you the ability to access and update your Will free of charge.