What happens if you don’t write a will? Making a Will can help you to protect your loved ones and gives you control over what happens to your estate, your children and even your funeral arrangements, when you die. While it's not the most popular thing to talk about over a cuppa, not making a will could put your loved ones (or other things that matter to you) at risk when you go.
A Will is a legal document that states who will inherit your assets and estate after you die. It includes considerations such as
who gets what
what happens to your children or any other dependents
donations and gifts of things you care about. You may have a particular charity or good cause in mind that you would like to make a gift or donation to. This can be reflected in your will and allows your legacy to live on.
You can write a Will yourself, but it's advisable to get legal advice, particularly from a STEP qualified Wills solicitor, in order to make sure all angles are covered and that there is less chance of your Will being contested.
Where to start
“Writing a Will is only part of the process. You need to think about where it will be stored and what the cost of that is.”
Louise Welch - STEP trained Will Writing Solicitor
It’s not just about writing the Will; you also need to consider where and how it is stored and what the costs of this are.
While there are cheap will writing services online, these often don't include the charges for monthly or yearly storage and the Will itself can be too basic for your needs.
Here are 7 more things that could happen when you don't make a will
1. Your children’s future could be uncertain
If your children are under the age of 18, you can nominate who the legal guardian will be when you go. By not including this in a Will, the decision can be left to the family courts and they may choose somebody who you don't agree with. For example, you may feel that a friend or family member is better suited to be your child's guardian, but the court may disagree.
The financial future of your children is also important.
How much money will you set aside for their education?
Will you set up any Trusts for them to control when they will receive any money. This can be set up in the Will.
If you have step children that you would like to provide for, they have no legal right to any sort of inheritance unless they have been legally adopted. So, if you wanted to provide for your stepchildren, you’ll need to write them into your Will. The same can also be said for foster children or any other dependents that aren’t blood relatives.
2. Your partner could miss out
Unmarried partners are not entitled to anything from your estate by law (unless you are registered civil partners), regardless of how long you've been together or lived together.
So if you want to make sure your partner receives a fair share of your assets after you go then you will need to write them into your will.
If your home is in your name, then your partner may not have the legal right to reside there.
3. The Laws of Intestacy would apply
Linked to the point above, if you do not have a Will then it would be the Laws of Intestacy that decide where your estate will pass. In some cases this means that people inherit monies from an estate where they did not even know the person.
Therefore, if you have no immediate family and wish to benefit friends or charities then it is essential you make a Will.
Find Out Why People Choose Us
STEP qualified solicitors and fixed fees that include storage are just some of the reasons that people choose us to help them write their Will. If you're ready to go or unsure where to start, we can help.
4. You could start a fight!
A well-written will can help prevent family arguments from those who are left behind once you go.
Relatives may want to contest a will and this can often lead to problematic relationships among your remaining family members.
5. The wrong person administers your estate
In your Will you name an executor or executors who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions in your Will. This means you can choose the best person or people for the job and give them prior warning.
6. You might be taxed
The value of your estate and who you leave your assets to determines how much inheritance tax your estate will need to pay.
If everything is left to a partner or spouse, there is often no Inheritance tax to pay.
A qualified solicitor can explain the basics of inheritance tax to you so that you can look at tax planning. It may be that you also need to seek the assistance of an independent financial advisor.
7. Your Will could be out of date
Ok, this one requires you to have already made a Will. But did you know that there are some circumstances where you may need to update an existing will? Marriage revokes a Will. Therefore, if you marry then your previous will would be invalid (apart from in limited circumstances). Therefore, you would need to make a new Will. This is especially relevant if you are remarrying and have children from a previous relationship.
If you divorce then your current will would treat the ex-spouse as having predeceased you. Therefore, in such a situation you should review the Will.
Furthermore, whenever your circumstances change you should check your Will to see if it is in date.
Other important factors when making a Will
Whilst creating your Will, you may also wish to consider the creation of Lasting Powers of Attorney if you have not already done so.
Lasting powers of attorney allow you to nominate a person or people to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make such decisions due to an accident or illness. You can nominate an attorney or attorneys to act on your behalf with regard to health and welfare matters as well as financial matters.
If you do not have lasting powers of attorney then it may mean that a person or people may need to apply to the Court of Protection to apply to be your deputy or deputies. This is very costly and an extremely onerous role for whoever is appointed.
Therefore, to save your family the potential stress of having to go to the Court of Protection, lasting powers of attorney are something you should consider and discuss with them.
Ready to Start?
Because of the current covid-19 lockdown the majority of meetings are being carried out via video WhatsApp or Facetime with a qualified solicitor at Sanders Witherspoon and we’ll make sure your Will is drafted, taking into consideration everything you tell us and even pointing out things you may have missed. We will then arrange the most suitable way of signing the Will with you taking into account the social distancing rules.