Only two in five adults in the UK have a will in place, despite the fact dying without one means your estate may not go to who you want it to.
According to research by insurer Royal London, of those that do have a will, one in seven (13%) admitted that it is out of date, increasing to nearly one in five (18%) amongst those who have got divorced.
Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson at Royal London, said: “Not having an up-to-date will can cause many complications and delays for your loved ones when it comes to inheriting assets. These complications can be greater for homeowners or parents with dependent children, so the importance of writing or updating a will is far greater for them.”
If you die without a will, then intestacy laws will apply and you won’t have any say in how your estate is distributed. Zoe Bailey, financial planner at wealth management service Tilney said: “If you have children and you haven’t made a will, when your die your spouse receives everything if your estate is under £270k. If it is worth more than £270k, then any remaining inheritance is split 50/50 between your spouse and your children. Therefore, if you want to divide up your estate in a different way with your family then you’ll need to outline this.”
Free Wills Month explained
If you’ve yet to write a will, October is Free Wills Month, a scheme backed by charities which offers free will services to those aged over 55. The charities involved in the scheme include the Dogs Trust, Age UK, Mind and The British Heart Foundation.
Participating solicitors will ask you to consider leaving something to one of these charitable causes in your will, although you are under no obligation to do so. Bear in mind that you’ll only be able to benefit from a free will if your affairs are relatively straightforward. If your situation is very complicated, and you need a more complex will drawn up, you’ll be required to pay for any additional work involved, but your solicitor will let you know how much you’ll have to pay at the outset.
To take advantage of Free Wills Month, go to www.freewillsmonth.org.uk and enter your details, You’ll then be notified of the solicitors in your area who are participating in the scheme. Bear in mind that they won’t have an unlimited number of appointments available, so if you want a free will you’d be wise to act sooner rather than later.
If you already have one, it’s worth checking whether it needs updating if your circumstances have changed. Emma Watson, head of financial planning at Rathbone Investment Management said: “Wills do need updating — particularly after life events like divorces, weddings and births of children and grandchildren. It’s important to review your will regularly to make sure that it matches your current wishes.”