24th August 2020
It is probably fair to say that most adults appreciate that they should make a will, but it is often a task that gets put off when other ‘life admin’ gets in the way.
Our team of expert Private Client Solicitors at Lamb Brooks, de-mystify and challenge some of the common excuses or barriers that people use when it comes to not making a will.
This is probably the most common reason that we hear. It is one of those tasks that remains on people’s ‘to do’ lists for months or even years. Particularly with many people leading a hectic lifestyle it is easily pushed to the bottom of the list. The trouble is, that no-body knows when they are going to die and if it happens suddenly then many people die without a will in place which can cause delays and problems for the family left to deal with the paperwork. Making a does not take as long as you might think. Particularly if your affairs are straightforward.
All too often people think that writing a will is something that you do later in life. If you lead a healthy lifestyle then there is a very good chance that you still have plenty of time to get your affairs in order. However, hundreds of younger people die every day in tragic accidents, or they become ill very suddenly. If you are not married but living together or have children together then making a will is even more important as without one your estate might not be dealt with in the way you imagined it would be.
In some cases, yes, this will happen. However, you must be married or in a civil partnership for this logic to work and even then, some of your estate may not be dealt with in the way you had intended. If you have children from a previous marriage, you may wish to make special provisions so that they are not left out. If you are not married, your partner could face losing your property, even if you have lived together for many years. If you are separated, but not yet divorced and in a new relationship then you could find that your estate is dealt with by your ex-partner which is not ideal. Also, you need to consider the possibility that you out-live them and who would be next in-line to deal with your estate might not be your choosing.
A will is not just a document that deals with the division of wealth. Even if you live very modestly, without owning any property, you may find that your death-in-service benefit or pension fund becomes very valuable over the years. If you own a modest property, this too is likely to be increasing in value year on year. Even if you have barely any assets to your name, there are still things that you may wish to pass on in a certain way, such as sentimental items or you may have specific funeral plans. Having a very simple, basic will can still save your family members some stress when winding up your estate.
Of course, in life there always seem to be more pressing matters and more tangible things to spend your money on, whereas a will is a document that you will never see being utilised so it is difficult to put a monetary value on. When you stop to think about how important this document is, the cost of a will is not so expensive after all. Remember that this document is completely tailored to reflect your personal set of circumstances and wishes and unless you have any major changes in circumstances, most people will only need to write their will once.
If you do not have any heirs to your estate then you may wish to leave money to a charity close to your heart, or make gifts to friends, a neighbour, or your local community. If you are estranged from your family or have no living relatives left, then it may be worth speaking to a Solicitor to have some contingency planning in place should you lose mental capacity. This way someone you trust like a friend or your Solicitor can make legal decisions on your behalf and be the executor of your estate.
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about death with their family. However, it is an inevitable fate and one that can be easier to cope with if legal affairs are put in order. A clear well-written will may only need to be looked at once and can be tucked away again. It can be very distressing for a family member to deal with someone’s estate not knowing for certain if they are doing the right thing. Having a guide and some personal wishes set out can give grieving family members comfort knowing that they are giving you the send of you wanted and dividing up your assets in the way you hoped.
Writing a will on your death bed has a multitude of problems. Firstly, you never know when and how you will die, you may not have the luxury of time to get your affairs in order. Secondly, you may find that you lack the mental capacity to make a legal and valid will if you leave it too late and thirdly, a ‘death-bed’ will can be more costly due to the urgent and higher risk nature of the work involved. It is always best to have time on your side when making important legal decisions and having someone accidentally left out of the will or forgetting to account for certain aspects could lead to relative contesting your will or feeling upset.
If you have complex family circumstances, then you have all the more reason to set out your wishes ahead of time. Whether you have estranged family members, children from previous relationships, stepchildren or disputes with relatives – it is important to set this aside and plan for your later years whilst you can. If you die without a will, you may find that people you care about the most are left out of your estate and others end up benefiting. If you have complicated family situations, then your solicitor may be able to provide some words of advice. It is often better to simplify matters when you find it too stressful, but it is important to do something.
If you do not fully understand the consequences of not having a will it is unlikely to motivate you to go out and get one written with any urgency. Lots of reasons why have been covered throughout this article but essentially if you die without a will (or without a valid will) then you will die intestate. This means that the state will decide how your affairs are dealt with. This leaves you open to omitting important people in your life, it can cause upset or disputes between family members. Not having a will also does not allow for you to express any personal wishes or make any tax savings for your heirs. It will also make the probate process slower as the state will be dealing with your affairs rather than your family and/or local solicitors.
The prospect of making a will does not have to be daunting or time-consuming. If you would like to make a start, then please get in touch and one of our specialist solicitors can talk you through the process and give you an expectation of costs depending on your own personal circumstances.
Call us on 01256 844888, email email@example.com or speak to our online chat assistant who is available at any time, including evenings and weekends.
How to Start Writing a Will: 8 Simple Steps
Adulting: Exactly Why You Should Have a Will in Your 30’s
Close to Home: Passing on Your Property
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
Lamb Brooks LLP
Victoria House 39 Winchester Street Basingstoke Hampshire RG21 7EQ
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