There is no doubt about it, one of the most odd areas of law is wills. Just the mention of the word can be enough to put us off even thinking further about it. Let’s face it, who wants to think about their own death, it goes against all our survival instincts and it’s human nature to put it out of our conscious thinking process.
But making a will is important for such a huge number of reasons and the reason that most of us try and avoid lawyers like the plague doesn’t really apply to most wills either. That reason, fear of the cost, is not a good reason either not to make a will because this type of legal advice is in fact very reasonable and there are now some great alternatives to instructing a solicitor for the more basic types of wills. It is possible to get a DIY wills kit from many book shops but we don’t recommend this, when instead there are now some fantastic resources for online wills.
The most compelling reasons for making a will include :-
- ensuring that your wishes are followed
- reducing anxiety for loved ones at a time of great pain
- possible tax mitigation in the form of IHT
- if you have young children, stating who you would to be their legal guardians in the event your partner has also died
- possibly creating trusts if you are wealthy and want to try and ensure the family wealth is protected in the future or for delaying inheritance or where young children are beneficiaries
- if you have religious or other beliefs you may have particular instructions about burial or cremation
- in terms of the whole process of dealing with the legalities after you have passed away, you will want to choose the right people to be your executors, who will need to administer your estate and ensure that gifts get to the right beneficiaries
- you may want top leave some specific items or sums of money to certain people or perhaps to charity
- you may want to exclude certain people from the will
If a will is not made, this situation is known as intestacy and in the UK there are statutory rules as to what happens and who benefits, which may be a million miles away from what you intend.
Overall, it often takes just a couple of hours at most to make a will, unless you are particularly wealthy or have complex finances or other requirements. So, take a deep breath, either search online for a solution such as described above or visit your chosen lawyer.