Dying without a will could mean that your property, money, and possessions don’t go to who you want, yet millions of people have yet to put their wishes down in writing.
Around a third of people aged 55 or over still haven’t written a will, according to Royal London, despite the fact they could get one done free of charge this month. October is Free Wills Month, where selected solicitors offer free will-writing services for over-55s. In exchange, the hope is that you will leave something in your will to charity. You can learn more and find the participating solicitors and charities near you at the Free Wills Month website.
Why write a will
Writing a will gives you the opportunity to get your financial affairs in order and makes it easier for probate to be carried out. Probate is the legal process of dealing with the estate of someone who’s dies. Research by probate experts Exizent found that the administration of an estate takes one and a half times longer if the person who’s died doesn’t have will and hasn’t left their affairs in order, with solicitors, executors and families often left struggling with the administration involved in trying to identify and access all their assets.
There are plenty of other reasons to write a will. Having one enables you to make sure that you provide for your dependents, avoid paying more inheritance tax than you need to, and leave a charitable legacy if you want to.
It’s particularly important to write a will if you are co-habiting with a partner but aren’t married or in a civil partnership. Emma Watson, head of financial planning at Rathbone Investment Management: “Fewer people are getting married, with the Office for National Statistics finding that cohabiting couple families are the fastest-growing family type. Sadly, the law hasn’t caught up with this fact, meaning that unmarried couples are largely unprotected if one should die.
“Unlike for married couples or those in a civil partnership, there is no legal right to property not jointly owned. If you have children together then this could mean that your partner risks not being able to stay in the family home or have enough money to bring up your children. To make sure they are protected, it’s crucial that you have a will in place expressing your wishes regarding children and assets.”
When writing your will, not only should you think about what you’re including and wanting to pass on, but also which people you want involved in helping carry out your wishes. Alexandra Price, director of financial planning at Charles Stanley, said: “For example, who would you like as your executors and/or trustees? Who would you like to act as the guardians of any children under 18 should both you and the other parent die? As you go through your own life stages, such as marriage or having children, you may reconsider who will be in control of what part of your Will. It should be regularly reviewed and updated to take into account any changing circumstances.”