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.  

We asked Katie Spence, a wills & probate expert, about the truth about wills and 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 people 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 or 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 could cost you around £350. During Trinity's Free Will Fortnight, different supporting solicitors donate this service for free to people who consider leaving a gift to Trinity.

There is always the option of drafting a will yourself, but however simple you might consider your financial matters to be, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure that adequate provisions have been made.

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 rights 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 possible 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 Generally 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 do I 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 do I 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.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your will