Why do I need a Will?

The simple answer is – to protect the people that you love.  

Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you do not make a valid Will, your property will pass under the laws of intestacy. This can have the following unintended consequences: –

  • If you are living with someone without being married/in a civil partnership, they may not receive anything. ‘Common law marriage’ is not recognised.
  • Your property may go to distant relatives.
  • Your estate will take longer to sort out as a court order will be needed to ‘administer’ it.
  • An intestacy usually causes distress and arguments amongst the people left behind.

I am not old enough yet and I don’t have much property. Why bother before I’m 40?

  • Sadly, disease and accidents do not respect age boundaries.
  • Wouldn’t you prefer that your belongings go to the people who matter most to you?
  • You need to safeguard your children and leave clear instructions about their upbringing.
  • A Will ensures that your loved ones do not face a stressful court application when they are grieving for you.

I am married/in a civil partnership. Surely everything will go to my partner anyway?

  • Even so, your partner will not receive everything if you have children.
  • It is better to take charge of the distribution yourself, by leaving clear instructions, particularly if you are in a second relationship.

I don’t need a Will. My partner and I have a ‘common law marriage’.

  • Wrong.  If you are ‘living together’ as a couple, without a marriage certificate or civil partnership, your surviving partner will not automatically inherit.
  • They may have to bring a court action for maintenance.
  • The court may not award them as much as you would have given them by Will.

Can I decide who looks after my minor children in my Will?

  • Yes. A well-drafted Will enables you to appoint guardians of your choice.
  • You can leave instructions about where they live and go to school.
  • You can make sure that they are with people who love them and take care of them.
  • This is important for single parents and unmarried fathers who do not have parental responsibility for births before December 2003.
  •  A valid Will nominating guardians prevents the situation where no one knows what you would have wanted, and a court decides the future of your children.

How often should I make a Will?

  • Ideally you should review your Will every 3–5 years.
  • Do so if you have recently married, are about to divorce or have divorced, had children or come into a substantial inheritance.
  • If you have retired recently and made a Will a long time ago, it probably needs updating to take account of changes in the law, add new grandchildren, change executors, or remove people to whom you no longer wish to leave anything.

How quickly can you draft a Will?

  • It is possible to prepare a basic Will for execution in an hour, in an emergency.
  • The usual timescale is 14 days from first taking instructions to execution, (signing and witnessing) of the Will.

Why do I need a Power of Attorney?

  • If you had a car accident, stroke, heart attack or other serious illness, your property could go into lock-down.
  • Your loved ones might have to make an expensive time-consuming application to the Court of Protection to appoint someone to manage your affairs.
  • The Court of Protection may appoint a professional who will charge for their time.
  • If no one can access your bank accounts, activate your insurance cover or run your business, your financial position and that of your dependants would quickly become very serious.
  • Choosing trusted people to take control of your affairs, whilst you are unable to deal with them, gives peace of mind and security to you and your loved ones.
It is never too early to make responsible financial decisions to safeguard your loved ones
Contact Catherine