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?
For those people without a will, spouses now inherit more under changes made a few years back, but so-called “common law” partners remain unprotected.
There are 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?
One study showed that 28.7 million of the UK adult population (57%) had not made a will. That figure included 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 simple will can be in the region of £140 to £240.
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 more easily at a difficult time.
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.
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?
To find a solicitor or financial adviser, just go to www.unbiased.co.uk and enter your postcode.
And 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.