More than half of UK adults are failing to recognise the importance of having a Will, according to October 2015 research by Unbiased. This is despite the fact that a) it is easy to set up a basic Will, and b) not having one could have negative consequences for your loved ones.
Why having a Will matters
Understandably, many married or civil partnership couples assume that, on their death, their whole estate will automatically pass to their spouse, without the need for a Will. Or, to put it another way, they believe that a Will is only required when there is one surviving spouse.
In reality, the rules are much less straightforward, depending on the size of your estate. A spouse may only inherit the first £250,000, plus your personal possessions, and the remaining estate may be split between the spouse and your children. An unmarried or unregistered civil partner has no automatic right to your estate at all.
Yet it runs deeper than that. A Will is an opportunity to remove ambiguity, and to set out clearly which items and possessions you would like people to inherit. It will cut out future family squabbles, and ensure your wishes are carried out. A Will can also help with Inheritance Tax planning.
Things you can do if you leave a Will
- Pass your estate to an unmarried partner
- Decide how much money and other assets each of your family members receive
- Specify who will become the guardians of your children
- Give a memento (such as a piece of jewellery) to a treasured friend or family member
- Leave something to charity
How to set up a Will
There are different methods of arranging a Will , depending on your circumstances and the size of your estate; including:
- A basic Will Pack – you can purchase a Will pack from a high street shop or online, and complete it yourself, making sure it is legally binding by getting it signed and witnessed. This approach should only be used if your wishes are very simple, and your situation is uncomplicated.
- A Will writing service – this is where you speak to a professional for help drawing up your Will, possibly over the phone or through a face-to-face meeting. The benefit of speaking to a specialist is they can cover all aspects of your estate, and make sure nothing is overlooked. They can also store your Will on your behalf until it is needed.
Finally – make sure you keep your Will up-to-date
Having a Will in place offers valuable peace of mind, but you must keep checking it to ensure that any changes to your situation – for example the birth of a grandchild – are also taken into account.
Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.