Do I need to make a Will?
There’s a common misconception that the only people who need to make a Will are very old or wealthy.
But Wills aren’t just for lottery winners – they can be a vital protective measure for younger families with smaller savings and equity, too.
So what could happen if I die intestate (without a will)?
- All of your assets could potentially go to the government. If you do not specify who you want your beneficiaries to be, or your beneficiaries cannot be reached, then your estate (the name given to all your assets as a whole) could go to the state.
- If you were unmarried, your partner may not stand to inherit from you. Unmarried couples are not entitled to inherit from their partners, particularly if there are other relatives to whom the estate could go. This could leave your partner without any financial support at an extremely difficult time.
- If you leave children, their legal guardian could be decided by a judge. Many people assume that their children would be cared for by their parents or siblings in the event of their death, but this is not a given. Often their legal guardian will be decided by a judge, who may make a decision which you may not necessarily agree with. They may even be placed in foster care until a decision is reached – which is obviously not ideal during a time of bereavement.
- A Will can be the only way to formally specify how you want to be buried. Without a Will, your preferences for your burial and funeral may go unrecognised. This can be particularly important if you hold certain religious beliefs about burial.
- Your estate may be subject to high Inheritance Tax rates. A Will can help massively reduce the rate of inheritance tax you need to pay, and even reduce it to zero. This means more will go to the beneficiaries you choose.
How do I make a Will?
Making a Will is a simple and relatively inexpensive process, and can save a great deal of time, money and grief.
Firstly you will need to have a thorough conversation with your solicitor, who will help you to establish what you would like to include in your Will, and who you would like to execute your Will after you die. They will be able to advise you on how to make your Will more tax efficient, which could drastically reduce how much Inheritance Tax you are required to pay. Once you have decided they will then draft the Will for you, which you will approve or amend as necessary. The Will is then signed in front of a witness.
Do I have to have a certain amount of money to make a will? Do I have be over a certain age?
No. Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will, regardless of their income or savings. Even if you do not have any savings, you may still make a Will to specify your wishes for your personal possessions, or who you would like to care for your children.
It’s also worth considering making a Living Will, which will specify your medical preferences and end-of-life care.