Why you need an up-to-date Will

Don’t let your solicitor and the tax man be the major beneficiaries of your estate, give your family and loved ones security and make a Will.

A Will is a very powerful document. It sets out what you want to happen to your money and belongings when you die. It is the only way you can be completely sure of what will happen to your property and possessions and it will give you peace of mind to know that

(a) your family and loved ones are protected when you die, and

(b) your possessions will go where you wish – perhaps to friends or to charities you supported during your lifetime.

If you die without a Will (“intestate”) you have no control over what happens to everything you own (your “estate”) after your death. Instead, what happens to your estate is dictated by the laws of intestacy. They were written over 75 years ago and many people think they are out of date because they do not recognise unmarried partners or “common law” spouses.

Most people do not realise that, under these laws:

A husband/wife doe not necessarily receive all your estate. Your spouse only gets everything if there are no other living relatives (e.g. parents or children). Without a Will, the law decides how your possessions should be divided and if there are children or other close living relatives – even cousins – they may have a claim on your property. This may even lead to the family home being sold because other relatives are entitled to a share of the value.

If you have children under 18 but you and your spouse are divorced, your affairs will be sorted out by your ex AND A PERSON OF THEIR CHOICE, on behalf of your children.This could be their new partner!

If you have a partner but you are not married or in a Civil Partnership, any unmarried partner has no automatic right to inherit anything from your estate – even if they helped buy it to begin with.They will have to prove either financial dependency or that you lived together as husband and wife for more than two years before death. If they can’t do that, they will receive nothing.

If you leave no relatives and you have no Will, everything you own will pass to the Crown

The question of ‘who gets what’ can lead to complicated and very expensive legal disputes. And, of course, any intentions to leave a gift to a friend or a charity will be lost.