Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Wills aren’t just for “old people.” Nobody knows what is around the corner and having a Will in place can make things much easier for your family at an already difficult time. If you fall into one of the below categories then should think about making a Will:
1. You have children
Statistics show that more than half of British parents (59%) do not have a Will or they have one that is outdated. This is a worrying indicator as having a baby is a critical point event Wills should be updated. Why? Well, there are two key reasons:
A Will ensures that your children are taken care of financially if you are no longer here to support them as they grow up. This especially applies to stepchildren, who are currently not accounted for in the Laws of Intestacy. Unless a stepchild has been formally adopted by you, they will not automatically benefit financially from your estate unless they are included in your Will.
A Will provides you with an opportunity to express who should become your children's guardian in the event their other parent is already deceased or your children lose both parents at the same time. Without including this in your Will, the courts will decide who will be appointed as guardian, which could be someone your children are not familiar with or a member of the family who you would not have appointed if you had the choice.
Updating your Will whenever a new grandchild is added to the family will ensure no one is left out is equally as important.
2. You are Married
Did you know that if you have a Will then you get married then your previous Will is automatically cancelled?
Did you also know that your spouse is not automatically entitled to inherit the whole of your estate is you pass away without a Will? You can see how things would be distributed if you do not have a Will here.
Additionally, if you want anyone other than your spouse to receive any of your assets, you would need to include that in your Will.
3. You own a property
For most of us buying our home is the largest purchase we will make in our lifetime. Because of this, it has the potential to significantly increase our own net worth or that of your beneficiaries, so choosing who this asset should be passed to is not a decision to be taken lightly.
If you own a property solely and pass away without a Will, your property will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which isn't always the way you want it to go.
If you own property jointly, it will be as either joint tenants or tenants in common. If the property is owned as joint tenants, your share automatically passes to the surviving joint party meaning that it cannot be passed to a named beneficiary in a Will. If the property is owned as tenants in common, you are able to pass your share of the property to a named beneficiary in a Will.
If you move in with your partner and you are not married then your partner has no automatic right to inherit anything from you. The only way you can make sure your partner benefits and can continue to live in the property is if you make a Will. Read about our Partner Wills here.
Therefore, buying property should be a moment that makes one realise the significance of having, or not having, a Will.
4. You are separated from your spouse
With a divorce rate of 42% in England and Wales, couples need to be aware of how to handle this unfortunate circumstance.
Separation and/or divorce has the potential to significantly disrupt your life. Updating your Will is likely to be forgotten about. But what could happen if it falls off the to-do list?
It is important to remember that being separated means that you are still legally married or in a civil partnership, so if your spouse or civil partner is due to inherit part or all of your estate or become your Executor, that will still happen if you pass away before it is updated. Even if there is no Will, your spouse or civil partner would still be eligible to inherit under the rules of intestacy. So in other words, separation has no effect on a Will. This is a perfect example of an event that should trigger the creation or update of a Will to prevent someone you are in the process of parting ways with from benefiting from your estate.
Alternatively, divorce has a bigger impact on a Will. Once the decree absolute (the final order) is issued, the former spouse or civil partner is removed from the Will in any areas they were mentioned, creating a gap if no substitute arrangements are made. As a result, until the Will is updated, those assets which your former spouse or civil partner were due to inherit will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. While this could mean that an estate is inherited by children or siblings, it could also mean that a new partner or new family would not be provided for.
Therefore, it is advisable for a divorcee to update their Will as soon as possible to ensure their wishes are carried out. We have Heritage Wills to help you make sure your legacy goes to the right people, read about them here.
5. You dislike your family
If you do not have a Will then you do not get to choose who benefits after you pass away, it is determined by the rules of intestacy.
So, if you do not want certain members of your family to benefit then you need to make a Will so that your favourite people and/or charities will be the ones to benefit.
If any of the above apply to you and you want to discuss making or updating your Will, please get in touch with us for a free consultation.
We have also created a handy guide that explains the different types of Wills on offer, request to have a guide posted out to you or have a copy emailed to you with the press of a button.