While many people will know the importance of having a will in place, there are still an alarming number of people nationwide who do not have one in place, either because they see it as something that they will do when they get older, or because they can’t see the importance of writing one.
According to the charity Will Aid, as many as 53% of people across the UK do not actually have a will in place, which can cause a number of different problems when they die. We take a look at some of the most important reasons you need a will.
Protecting your own wishes
Should you die without a valid will, you will have died “intestate”. In these cases, your assets are distributed according to the Intestacy Rules, in a set order laid down by law. This order may not reflect your wishes.
The Intestacy Rules will decide where your money goes, which can be upsetting for those left behind, who see assets passed on perhaps to estranged family members and even former spouses who will have a claim if there is no will in place.
For those who have no relatives, it can be an even more worrying situation. In these cases, unless long lost relatives can be located, all assets pass to the government, when it could have been left to charities or very dear friends, if only there had been a will.
Protecting your family
In most cases, people write a will because they want to know that their family will be looked after when they die. However, this can get complicated when no will is actually left behind.
For example, if you have a partner who you are not married to, even if you have been together for many years and were living together, they would have no legal right to your assets if you should die intestate. In many cases, this can leave people with nothing.
Even for those who are married or in civil partnerships, dying without leaving a will may mean that your spouse or civil partner does not inherit the whole of your estate. In these cases, the amount that a spouse will be entitled to will be restricted, and some money can even end up going to people that you feel are underserving, leaving your immediate family with less than they would have felt they were entitled to and less than you would have wanted to leave them.
Is your will correct?
Of course, it’s not all just about having a will either. It needs to be both up to date and completely legal as well.
This is why it’s important to have your will written by a solicitor with specific expertise in this area. There have been many cases where people have written their own wills, for example, and have ended up leaving behind a legal dispute that rages on for months or years. Making sure your will is updated regularly will be important too. You don’t want to have an old will left behind that leaves a large chunk of your money to an ex-spouse, for example, or does not comply with current regulations, as again this could potentially leave your money and assets being distributed in ways that you would not have wished.