If you want to avoid creating a financial mess for your loved-ones when you die, writing a will is crucial. Luckily, whole the process is really very easy.
How can writing a will protect your family?
When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their assets must be distributed according to specific rules.
These are called the rules of intestacy and a person who dies without leaving a will is said to have died intestate. This means your estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws and not your final wishes.
How can a will affect your partner?
Laws have recently changed. For those people without a will, spouses will inherit more under the changes, but so-called “common law” partners remain unprotected.
They mean larger inheritances for spouses and less for the parents and children of the deceased, while common law partners are still entitled to nothing.
You can find more details on the Government's guide to intestacy.
Why should you bother making a will?
A recent study showed that 28.7 million of the UK adult population (57%) have not made a will. That figure includes 54% over those aged 50-59, 27% of those aged 60-69 and 19% of the over 70s.
While many name cost and complexity as a reason for not making a will, it can be done very simply with the help of a professional.
How much could a will cost you?
The average cost of using a solicitor to draw up a will can be as low as £150 for singles and £200 for couple.
Although this is not an insignificant sum, the help of a professional will ensure the will is legal and valid. It will also help your loved ones deal with your estate at a difficult time. Saga's Wills and Estate Planning service can ensure you have the right one.
What happens to your will if your circumstances change?
Even if you do have a will, that's no reason to shut it away forever.
Many people find they have wills which are no longer suitable, so it's important to make sure yours is up-to-date.
If your will was made a long time ago or is obviously unsuitable, you may find that the money from it doesn't go where you wish. This also makes it easier for family members to directly challenge your wishes.
Without a relevant and up-to-date will, your relations could end up paying more tax, and your legacies may not end up where you wish.
Read our guide to reducing inheritance tax.
How often should you check that your will still matches your needs?
You should revisit the details of your will every three to five years, or when there is a material change to your life.
Where can I get good information about wills?
Saga has a will-writing service, or to find a solicitor or financial adviser, go to www.unbiased.co.uk and enter your postcode.
Look out for Free Wills Month, when solicitors across England and Wales draft a free will for you, in the hope that you'll leave a bequest to charity.