Are you ever too young to write a will?

Wills, Trusts & Estates | 14th February 2017

With the life expectancy of the average person in the UK at an all-time high (currently approx. 81 years old) many think that a will is something that you do when you are ‘old’.

Accidents and unexpected events can (and do) happen and none of us are invincible! 2016 saw a spate of celebrity deaths – many of which would be considered as ‘too young’. A sobering reminder that life is unpredictable and that you are never too young to write a will!!

In the UK, you must be 18 years old to execute a valid will (or 16 if you are in the armed forces). Deciding at what age you need a will is entirely dependent on your personal circumstances. Research has showed that only 9% of 16-25 year olds and 14% of 25-35 years have a will with nearly half stating that they didn’t feel that they were old enough.

We often hear from young people “I don’t have anything to give”. With the average age of first time home ownership higher than ever, it is easy to see why young people feel that they do not need a will. However, there are many other assets that young people do have such as cars and savings or even that Star Wars memorabilia!

If you do not have a will, the law will decide who inherits your possessions. The ‘rules of intestacy’ set out who inherits where there is no will and this often comes as a bit of a shock, and adds more heartbreak to an already difficult time.

If you die intestate (without a will) and you are unmarried, your partner will not inherit anything from your estate – this can be particularly difficult in cases where a couple are co-habiting and the surviving partner dies.

Another alarming statistic is that 53% of parents have not prepared a will! A will is a vital instrument for appointing a guardian if the worst should happen. If you die without appointing a guardian the courts will decide who is appointed to look after you child. At a time when a child is already grieving the loss of their parent they could then be placed with a person neither related nor known to the child.

Will Aid poll found that of the 53% of parents with no will, 54% said that they had not found time to do it, 19% thought they were too young to bother and 18% didn’t want to think about death.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kerry Hay

Solicitor, Trusts & Estates

Kerry studied Law at Bournemouth University before completing her LPC at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice. She was a paralegal for 18 months bef...

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