It may seem rather morbid to have to start thinking about writing your will but there can be serious consequences should you put it off and the worst happens. Statistics show that despite increased importance being put on the writing of a will, 57% of people in this country still die having not written one. Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that we should be handing our children and grandchildren pens and paper as soon as they learn how to write but creating your will sooner rather than later should be a priority. This gives you peace of mind in knowing that it is written, whilst also giving you plenty of time to change it should your situation change. The fragility of life means that we really don’t know what could happen tomorrow so therefore surely constructing your will early is not a horrible thought that you shouldn’t concern yourself with but merely common sense.
The consequences of dying intestate
When someone sadly dies without having written a will it is known as dying intestate. If this happens the consequences could be difficult for your loved ones to deal with. Instead of your money and other assets being divided according to your wishes, it will be dealt out in accordance to a set of strict guidelines. This could mean that even family members that are estranged could take a share, leaving the rightful inheritors, in your eyes, without a look in. These consequences can be even more alarming if you are living with your partner but are not married. Under the rules of intestacy, a cohabiter will receive nothing at all from this process.
Keep it up to date
As well as the 57% of people that die without writing their will, there are also 19% of UK adults who, even after a substantial change in their circumstances, fail to make change to their will. This could again result in your assets being handed over to the wrong people after your death. Failing to update your will after a marriage will leave your partner with no legal leg to stand on when it comes to inheriting your property. However, that is not the worst case scenario. If you neglect to change your will after a divorce, your ex-partner could end up with a substantial portion of your state against your wishes. You should also consider making changes to your will should you have children, buy or sell a property or need to change the person you’ve specified as executor.
Seek legal advice
The process of writing your will should not be conducted on your own however. It is obviously an important legal document and failing to complete it in the right manner could leave you unprotected. Getting aid from a professional will help you navigate the complex laws and jargon involved and is the best way to make sure that your wishes are fully carried out after death. Under no circumstances should you go down the route of buying a ‘write your own will’ kit from your local newsagents. Although this may seem like an easier and more financially beneficial option, it could leave your will declared invalid if the correct legal measures are not met.
Chris Mayhew writes here on behalf of Davis Gregory solicitors. They are one of the most trusted Cheltenham law firms and can offer great experience and advice during the process of writing your will.