Many people don’t have a will either because they haven’t got around to writing one, or because they think it’s something they don’t need to worry about until they’re much older.
But if you die without a will, known as dying intestate, there’s a risk that your assets won’t go to who you want them to. Here, we debunk four common myths about wills.
- Only old people need to think about wills
Everyone hopes they’ll make old bones, but the truth is none of us knows what’s around the corner. Writing a will is simply about getting your affairs in order so that you can get on with living your life with peace of mind that your loved ones will be protected when you’re no longer here. It’s especially important to write one if you have children or other financial dependants, or if you want to leave anything to people who aren’t immediate family.
- Your loved ones will automatically inherit everything you own anyway
If you die without a will, intestacy laws will determine who inherits what. For example, even if you’ve lived with a partner for many years, if you’re not married, they won’t legally be entitled to any of your possessions when you die. Instead, any children you have will receive the proceeds of your entire estate, once they reach the age of 18.
If you have no living relatives at all when you die and you don’t have a will in place, your estate will automatically pass to the Crown.
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- Writing a will is too expensive
Lots of people put off writing a will because they think it’s going to be too expensive or complicated.
However, it’s often cheaper than you might think, with costs for having one drawn up by a solicitor typically ranging from £144 and £240 if your affairs are straightforward, according to the Money Advice Service. You can buy a DIY will-writing kit if you want to which will cost less than this, but you must be confident that you don’t make any miscalculations or errors which could invalidate it.
- Once you’ve written a will, you’ll never have to do another one
If your circumstances change, it’s essential you update your will, so you can’t just put it in a drawer and forget about it. For example, if you get married, any existing will is automatically revoked, so you’ll need to make a new one. If you get divorced, your will won’t be revoked, but any clauses naming your former spouse will no longer be value.
Often you can make changes simply by writing an addendum to the original will, known as a codicil, which like your original will must be properly witnessed.