If you’re reading this it probably means that you haven’t made your will yet. You’re not alone! At least 50% of the adult population of the UK don’t have a will.
It’s not that you think it’s a bad idea, you just haven’t got round to it yet, and you know that it’s going to cost some money. Sound familiar? Here are some good reasons to get you acting!
The rules of intestacy
The technical term for dying without a will is known as dying ‘intestate’. It is the ‘rules of intestacy’ that decide who gets what when you die.
How does inheritance work?
Here are a few facts that you may find surprising: If there is no will in place:
- Contrary to popular belief, if your husband or wife dies you do not automatically inherit their Estate – ‘Estate’ means the whole of one’s possessions. (if you have children, the spouse would only automatically inherit the first £250k, if you do not have children you would receive the first £450k)
- If you are not married to your partner, you have no rights over their estate - even if you’ve lived together for years. You could be left with nothing if your partner has not made a will (and vice versa). Their blood relatives would inherit in the following order:
- Children or grandchildren
- Brothers or sisters
- Half brothers / sisters
- Uncles and aunts
- If there is no surviving relative, you would still receive nothing from your common-law partner’s estate – the money would go to the Crown!
Make things easy for your family
If you do not have a valid will when you die it can take months or even years to sort out your estate. This can be a very difficult and upsetting time for your surviving family.
What about your children?
If you’re a single parent, or if you and your partner die together, children under 18 may be taken into temporary foster care until Social Services appoint guardians. This can take months to sort out.
What to do now
There are a few simple decisions you need to make before you contact a professional to draw up your will:
- Make a list of everything that you own – property, cars, valuables, investments, pensions and other financials
- Decide who you want to leave everything to. You can leave everything to one person, or different people for specific items or amounts
- If you have children, you need to elect a legal guardian
- Finally you need to appoint an ‘Executor’. This is somebody who will carry out the administration of your will after your death. This should be someone that you trust, and ideally someone who is younger (and therefore likely to survive you).
How much does it cost to write a will?
- If you appoint a solicitor to write your will this will normally cost around £300 if your situation is reasonably straightforward
- A professional Will Writer will usually be slightly cheaper, in the region of £150
- You can buy a ‘Will writing kit’ for under £20. However, as your will is such an important document, it’s advisable to go down one of the previous two routes.