Do you love your family? Do you want them to be financially secure when you die? Then why haven’t you written a Will? If you die without making a will, you put your family at risk of stress, family disputes and even court action that can last for years. Maybe you think your family know your wishes, maybe you think your family will play fair. But you need to stop assuming and start planning. A will ensures that you have certainty and control over what happens to your estate when you die, including who manages your wishes and how assets are divided.
No such thing as a common-law spouse
If you are living with your partner but you are not married or in a civil partnership, making a will is even more important. Many co-habiting couples falsely believe that they would be viewed as married under ‘common law’. This is not true. If you die without a will, or it has not been properly signed and witnessed, the law of intestacy dictates who inherits your estate — but these rules do not reflect modern living arrangements.
If you die without a will, you could leave your partner with nothing. Although they might be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if you had been living together for at least two years immediately before your death.
Married but no will
Even if you are married or in a civil partnership, if you die intestate (without a will) the rules of intestacy dictate who gets what from your estate. If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, a spouse or civil partner will get the first £322,000 of the estate and half of anything above that. The rest of the estate will go to the direct descendants.
So before you make an appointment to join a gym and get fit make another – more realistic – new year resolution, book an appointment with a solicitor to write your will. It doesn’t take long to do, the solicitor will talk you through the process, draft your will, ask you to check it, come back in to sign. Job done. Now you can get on with living.