Have You Written a Will? 

More than half of us haven’t, which means that we could be leaving behind an administrative nightmare when we go. 

More than half of us haven’t written a will, even though this means that we could leave a terrible mess behind when we die. 

Many assume that if we die without a will, our estate will still make its way to the right people, but this is not true.  

When there is no will, your assets are split according to the rules of intestacy. These rules are set up by the Government. 

This means that if you are married, anything you own jointly will pass to your spouse. But everything else won’t. In England and Wales your spouse will get the first £270,000 and half of the rest.  

The remainder is then split between your children, or if you have no children your parents and siblings.  

There is no such thing as a common-law partner in the UK law, so even if you have lived together for decades, if you are not married, (or in a civil partner), and you die without a will, they will get nothing. 

Where your Money Goes 

If you are unmarried, your estate will pass to your children, siblings, parents, distant family, or even Prince Charles. Prince Charles ends up getting plenty of money as a result of our general failure to write a will. If you die without one, and have no family, your estate goes to the Crown, unless you live in Cornwall, where the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince Charles – gets your assets. This has resulted in Prince Charles receiving over 1 million, which he has handed to charities. 

The only way to ensure that your money goes instead to the people you want to receive it, is to make a will. 

You can stipulate not only who gets what from your financial assets, but it also provides you with the opportunity to distribute your treasured possessions to people who you think will most appreciate them. 

In order to ensure you get a legally binding will that reflects your exact wishes; you should see a professional to ensure that the will is written correctly. 

Review Your Will at Regular Intervals 

Once you have a will, don’t rest on your laurels. View it at ‘key stages’ in your life. Births, marriages, deaths or the end of relationships, can make your position change. 

Bear in mind that when you divorce, your ex-spouse is automatically removed from your will, if you only separate, they can still benefit even if you die years later. 

When writing you will, be aware that anyone can read it after you die. All wills become public documents via the Gov.uk website. All wills become a public document once a Grant of Probate is issued. You may therefore not want to write anything in your will that you wouldn’t be comfortable with people seeing after your death. 

If you want to keep certain things confidential, then the best course is to write a ‘letter of wishes’ to go along side your will. Although this will be kept private from public view, it is not legally binding – it is only an expression of your wishes, however your executors are bound to consider this. 

Finally, make sure your loved ones know where to find your will. Most professional will writers will have a system whereby they hold the will for you, there may well be a small fee to pay on an annual basis. 

If you require any advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.