The majority of people in the UK don't have a Will. Most people think it isn't relevant for them or assume their assets will go to the right people in the end. Others are worried about the costs involved.  

Katie Spence, Wills & Probate Executive from Pothecary Witham Weld, explains the truth about Wills and explains why making a Will might be more relevant than you think.

When should you make a Will?

Once you reach the age of 18, you are legally able to make a Will.

Many of you might feel that you do not have sufficient funds to justify having a Will. However, should you die without making a valid Will your assets, regardless of how big or small, will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy, irrespective of any verbal agreements/promises you may have made during your life.

At the very least, you should seek legal advice to discuss your circumstances.

How much does it cost to make a Will?

To draft a basic Will, Pothecary Witham Weld normally make a charge of £350 plus VAT.  During Free Will Fortnight, Pothecary Witham Weld donate this service for free for people who consider leaving a gift to Trinity.

There is always the option of drafting the Will yourself.  However simple you might consider your financial matters to be, it is important that you seek legal advice to ensure that adequate provisions have been put.

Can I change my Will at any point?

Yes, your Will should not be a once in a lifetime document and should be amended to reflect any major changes to your life i.e. finances, marriage, divorce or children. 

You are entirely within your right to change your Will as many times as required, provided you have sufficient capacity to do so.

If I do not have a Will, where will my money go?

If you die without making a Will, your estate will be disposed of in accordance with set rules, known as the rules of intestacy. It is more than likely that these rules will not truly reflect your wishes hence why it is paramount that everyone has a valid Will in place.

The rules of intestacy will consider all family members but, in the event that there is no-one available to take the estate, your entire estate will eventually pass to the Crown.

What happens if I make a Will, then my circumstances change?

  1. Marriage - General speaking, marriage will automatically revoke any wills in place unless the Will has been drafted in contemplation of that marriage. 
  2. Buying a property – This, in itself, will not have an impact on the validity of your Will. To ensure that your property passes in line with your wishes, it is important that you seek legal advice to discuss how the property is to be held (joint tenants or tenants in common). From a tax perspective, by purchasing the property this may have an impact on the value of your estate and, again, seeking legal advice would be sensible.
  3. Children - Again, this in itself does not invalidate your Will but it is important to ensure that provisions are made for your children especially whilst under the age of 18 years i.e. ensure guardians have been appointed and providing financial support for the general maintenance of your children. 

I have life insurance so that means everyone I love will be provided for. I don’t need a Will then do I?

Whilst it is good idea to have life insurance in place to support your family members, it is paramount that you also have a valid Will. Your life insurance will not state who inherits your existing assets i.e. bank accounts, properties and personal items, this is dealt with under your Will

I don’t own a house or flat so I don’t need a Will?

Regardless of whether you own a property or not, everyone should have a Will in place. Having a Will allows you to control who should inherit your assets whether this be bank accounts or personal items of a sentimental value.

I don’t have any children so I don’t need a Will?

Regardless of whether you have children or not, it is important to ensure that, on your death, your assets pass in accordance with your wishes rather than in accordance with a set of rules.

I have lots of student debts so I don’t need a Will – I probably owe more than I own.

In cases where debts exceed the assets, there is a priority list setting out which debts should be paid first. It is essential that someone is able to deal with this on behalf of the estate. By drafting a Will, you are appointing an Executor who will administer your estate and pay the necessary debts. Without an Executor, under the rules of intestacy an administrator may need to be appointed. It is likely that this would be your spouse/civil partner, child/children, parents or siblings. 

Trinity is offering you the chance to make or amend a Will for free during our Free Will Fortnight from 8 - 19 May 2017. For more information about some of the practicalities surrounding death and dying, click here.