At a time of great uncertainty, one of the most loving things you can do for your close relatives is to make a will. If you don’t make one before you die – and I hope
that will be many years away – then those you love and care for will not necessarily get the share of your money, home and property that you intend.
Dying without a will – intestate, as it’s called – is subject to strict legal rules about who gets what. The details are complex and differ in different parts of the UK. Your spouse or civil partner comes first, your children next, then other relatives in order. But even a spouse or children won’t necessarily get everything, depending on what your estate is worth. Only by making a will can you ensure who gets what. And please be aware that if you live with someone who is not your spouse or civil partner, they will get nothing if you haven’t made a will.
Lawyers make a lot of money out of relatives who contest badly drawn wills, so do not do it yourself. Go to a lawyer. They are subject to strict rules that protect you.
You also decide who will deal with your affairs after you die – these are the executors and they should be people you trust, and they can also be beneficiaries. You can name a bank or a lawyer as executors, but they will charge your heirs hefty fees.
In England and Wales a will must be signed by you and witnessed by two adults who are not beneficiaries. In Scotland, you must sign every page and only need one witness. Witnesses do not read the will, they just sign to say they have seen you sign it. At a time of social distancing this can be done through glass or at a safe distance. Use your own pen and wear gloves. Your solicitor will make sure it is done safely and legally.
Go to citizensadvice.org.uk, search “wills” and make sure you look at England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as appropriate.