Shocking new figures indicate that 69,000 people in their 60s and 70s die each year suffering from intestacy. No, that’s not the cause of death – it means they did not have a will.
A survey for the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners found that 30 per cent of people between the ages of 60 and 79 had not made a will.
If you’re one of them, I urge you to make one now because November is Will Aid month and hundreds of solicitors all over the UK will do a simple will for an individual or a couple – for free. All they ask is that you make a donation to the Will Aid charity; they suggest £100 for a single will and £180 for a pair of similar wills for a couple.
If your affairs are more complicated, then the basic part will still be done free, but with extra charges for the complex bits. If you do not make a will, then the laws of intestacy kick in – which may be very difficult for your loved ones. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, if you live with someone but are not married or civil-partnered, your unmarried partner will get nothing. If you are married or civil-partnered but have no surviving children, grandchildren or other descendants, then the surviving spouse (I use that to include a civil partner) will get
If there are descendants then, since July, the spouse gets the first £322,000 and half the rest, with the balance divided among descendants. If there is no surviving spouse, the whole lot is divided among children or, if there are none, grandchildren. After that, other relatives get lucky in a strict order of priority. (In Scotland, the rules are more complicated and can seem less fair.)
And you can avoid all these issues by making a will!
Don’t just download a form from the internet, or try to save money by going to a will writer, though. They are not legally qualified and if something does go wrong, there is no compensation. Instead, make an appointment with a solicitor on the Will Aid website – willaid.org.uk – and download its useful guide to the preparation you need to do.