A survey carried out by research group Populas has revealed that 61 per cent of British adults do not have a will, representing more than 30 million people.
The main reasons people gave for not making a Will were:
The survey also revealed that attitudes to writing a Will differed throughout the UK – with people in England more likely to have made a Will than people in Wales or Scotland. Regionally, people in the South West are more likely to have made a Will, whilst surprisingly people in London, where property prices are substantially higher, are least likely.
Remember that none of us know exactly when we will die and it is quite possible that at the point of your death, your estate may be substantially bigger than it is now. It is only on death when your Personal Representatives work out all of your assets and liabilities that the true value of your estate becomes clear. You may have purchased a property or inherited money from relatives. Your assets may be bolstered by any life insurance policy that is not written into trust, or there may be money owing to you that you were unaware of. A Will ensures these assets are distributed as you would want them to be, rather than on the rules of intestacy.
It is also important to appreciate that making a Will is not simply about leaving money to your beneficiaries. If you have children, your Will is the appropriate place to appoint a guardian for them, should something happen to you. Click here to read more about including a guardianship clause in your Will.
You can also use your Will to leave gifts that may not be particularly valuable but which have a sentimental value.
In addition, you can include funeral preferences, such as whether you’d like to be buried or cremated. Most relatives say they have no idea which option their loved ones would choose, which can add stress and worry at an already difficult time.
If you believe your estate is quite small, you do not need to leave specific monetary gifts in your Will unless you want to. You can simply your entire estate to whomever you choose, without detailing specific assets or gifts.
In our experience, people who are “too busy” to write a Will usually imagine that they will have the opportunity to write a Will at some point in later life, perhaps closer to when it might be needed. However, sadly life doesn’t always go to plan. Accidents and illnesses can befall anyone at any stage of life – and leaving things until later may mean that at the point you need a Will, you no longer have the capacity to make one.
April King’s team appreciate how busy our clients are and for this reason, we offer appointments to fit around your schedule. For those within our very wide geographical area, we provide a free no-obligation appointment of up to one hour either at our nearest office or in the comfort of your own home to discuss making a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney. If you are not within our geographical area, we offer telephone appointments during which we can discuss your goals and concerns with you and your partner, if you have one. We also offer home visits for probate services, and a free initial discussion over the telephone for all other services.
In the absence of a Will, the rules of intestacy will apply and these can lead to some unexpected consequences. For example, many are surprised to learn that cohabiting partners will lose out, even where there has been a lengthy relationship. In addition, married couples often do not realise that should their spouse remarry after their death, their entire estate can pass sideways out of the family, disinheriting their children.
Head of April King Legal Paul King explains:
“As a firm, what we say is a Will isn’t just about the money, it’s about a legacy and a message that you leave behind. The question is do you want to leave harmony or do you want to leave discord?”
The absence of a Will can mean those who feel entitled may make a claim against your estate. This creates stress and tension within the family at an already difficult time. The simple act of making a Will can ensure that in the event of your death, loved ones are provided for and years of heartache and division are avoided.
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