Thursday, 15th February 2024

Should I make a Will?


According to recent research, around half of UK adults do not have a will. Reasons for not doing so include:

  • the belief that they do not have enough assets or wealth to warrant making a will (24%)
  • the belief that loved ones will automatically inherit their wealth regardless (17%)
  • not being able to afford to make one (15%)
  • the belief that they have plenty of time to make one (15%)
  • not knowing how to write a will (14%)
  • not wanting to think or talk about death (13%)

Planning for death is not something any of us want to do, especially if you are just starting a family, getting on the property ladder, and making headway in your career.  If you want a secure future for the people you care about, making a will is something you must consider. Indeed, a properly drafted will is one of the most important documents you should have, and careful preparation should start as soon as possible.

Who should make a will?

While it might be more common to think about estate planning as you get older, unexpected events can happen at any time. So, adults of all ages should ensure they have a valid will.

If you die without one, the intestacy rules determine how your estate is distributed. In an age of cohabiting couples, second marriages, and blended families, these rules rarely respect the bonds of modern living. So, if you care about what happens to your hard-earned assets after you die, and, more importantly, who should inherit them, you must have a will.

People with assets

You should have a will if you own any assets (including through inheritance), such as property, savings, investments, or other valuable possessions. Such legal provision ensures these assets are distributed according to your wishes. A properly drafted will can also safeguard against potential care costs, providing a strategic element in financial and estate planning.

Parents, grandparents, and carers  

In the unfortunate event of both parents passing away, a will lets you select a guardian for your children, ensuring their care aligns with your preferences. Moreover, a will offers vital protection for children from previous relationships, mitigating the risk of them inheriting nothing if you have remarried.

In a broader familial context, it is not uncommon for grandparents to add their grandchildren to their wills, so they inherit directly. Furthermore, if you are financially responsible for a dependent, including those with specific care needs (which notably may include parents), a will can help provide for their future should you no longer be around.

People in relationships

Contrary to popular belief, without a will, your husband, wife, or civil partner may not automatically inherit everything. Likewise, there is no such thing as ‘common law’ marriage, and if you are unmarried and do not have a will, your partner could be left with nothing.

Business owners

A will can determine what happens to your business interests after your death. This includes issues like succession planning and asset distribution.

Reviewing and Updating your Will

Life can change quickly, and a range of factors, including shifting relationships, children, finances, property values, and regulatory and tax updates, could mean that your carefully drafted will no longer reflects your situation and wishes.

There are also some occasions, such as getting married, when a will is automatically cancelled. So, once drafted, as well as reviewing your will after any significant life event or a significant change in the size or nature of your estate, it is also worth doing every five years.

It is never too early to prepare

It is all too easy to put off writing a will, but doing so can cause problems for your loved ones after you’re gone. The good news is that making a will is easier than you might think. Nevertheless, appointing a solicitor is crucial to ensure you avoid the common mistakes that could make your will invalid. Even the slightest error could render a will null and void, so expert advice is recommended.

At Underwoods, we help ensure your loved ones are taken care of when you pass on. In addition to drafting, reviewing, and amending your last will and testament, we can also advise you on several other key areas of law that may impact your estate planning. For further advice, please contact James McLean, Alex Shah or Shirin Wright in our private client team.

This article is for general purpose and guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.  It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.


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