What is a Will?
When you die, your property, financial and personal affairs need to be dealt with. A Will is a legal document which you draw up during your lifetime which dictates who will sort these matters out for you after you die and which determines who will inherit your property, money and other personal possessions.
Why should I make a Will?
A Will is a positive step to ensure that what you want to happen after your death with everything you own will take place and that the people you want to look after financially are protected.
Having a Will in place helps to simplify the administration of your estate and remove some of the stress and worry from your family at a time of bereavement. It can also help to reduce administration costs and minimise inheritance tax liabilities through careful planning during your lifetime.
A Will can also ensure that any children you have are provided for, especially if you are separated or unmarried, and can include the appointment of a guardian to look after them if you are no longer here.
What happens if I die without making a Will?
If you die without making a Will, the rules of intestacy apply (see attached note). One or more of your family members would administer your estate and it would then be distributed to your relatives in accordance with the law. This could mean the people who you wish to benefit from your assets do not do so, because they are not entitled to them under the law. For example, even if you are co-habiting with someone, they do not inherit anything from your estate under the intestacy rules and even if you are married there are financial limits on the amount a spouse will inherit in certain circumstances.
What if I already have a Will in place?
Your Will should be reviewed at least every 5 years or so to make sure that it remains current. It is not necessary for your Will to be rewritten if you or a beneficiary move, for example, but a major life change such as marriage, divorce, a death in the family or the birth of a new family member could invalidate all or part of your Will and you should consider updating it at this time.
Similarly, your Will may need to be reviewed if your circumstances have changed so that legacies included in your Will are now too large or too small or you have disposed of items you have specifically given away in the Will.