One of most important things any of us can do, in financial terms, is to make a will. When we die our assets do not die with us and will need to be distributed. Even though we may be dead it is possible, via a will, to state how our assets are distributed and therefore who will ultimately benefit.
Why should I make a will?
If you die without making a will you will be deemed to have died ‘intestate’ and your estate is distributed in accordance with the law of the land, which is unlikely to be how you would have wished. There are a number of other reasons to make a will such as
- unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner
- if you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die
- it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance (IHT) if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
- if your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. If you are married or enter into a registered civil partnership, this will make any previous will you have made invalid. (source: Citizen’s Advice)
If any of the above points resonate with you then you should make a will.
So how exactly will my estate be distributed if I die and I don’t have a will in place?
The HMRC website has a handy interactive guide which will tell you how your estate will be distributed, based on your circumstances, if you die without a will. (here is a link). Obviously if you are happy with how your estate would be distributed, according to the laws of intestacy, and you do not want to nor need to mitigate against IHT, or have children, you may not want to make a will.
How do I make a will?
You can make a will by contacting a solicitor or using one of the numerous online companies which offer will writing services. This website is one I have used before and would recommend. The whole process should take about ten minutes to complete.
How much does it cost?
Cost is determined by who writes your will (i.e. a solicitor or a website) and how complex it is. But as a guide a simple will for one person will cost you about £30 online. Obviously if your affairs are complex you would need to seek the advice of a solicitor.
One final point………….don’t forget to review your will if your circumstances change in the future.