Talking about what will happen when we die can be an uncomfortable subject, but it’s important that we discuss our legacy and what we would like to happen with our estate when we pass away with our loved ones.
October is ‘Free Wills Month’, when many within the legal profession encourage people to write a will, regardless of their age or current circumstances.
Writing for The Money Pages recently, Andrew Megson, chairman of My Pension Expert, explained why we should all make sure that not only do we have a will, but that it’s up to date.
He talked about the rules of intestacy, which is the legislation in place to distribute someone’s estate when they die without a will. Under the law, the estate is typically divided between a spouse, parents, children and siblings.
Although you might feel as though this is adequate, he stressed that it’s important to understand that this leaves you with very limited control over who inherits what. In addition, the intestacy laws only cover married partners. This means if you have a long-term partner but you aren’t married, they would get nothing from your estate unless you had a will specifying otherwise.
Mr Megson also noted that research has found that while 82 per cent of adults aged between the ages of 18 and 50 believe that it’s important to have a will, just 31 per cent actually have one.
Having a will can also prevent any fallings out between family members. An article for Today’s Wills and Probate recently highlighted one case where one woman died leaving two siblings and the children of another deceased sibling to inherit under the laws of intestacy.
However, one of the siblings claimed the deceased had gifted her property to him on her deathbed. In the ensuing court case, this was not deemed to be a valid deathbed gift but had the deceased had a will, this situation would not have arisen.
When it comes to actually making your will, Mr Megson advised that you take your time to look closely at your assets, as well as who you would like to inherit what.
You should also speak to your family and friends about how you are considering distributing your estate. This is also a good opportunity to make people aware of their involvement in your will and to have any challenging conversations with your loved ones.
He also highlighted the importance of getting professional advice on writing your will, such as from will solicitors in Epsom, as there are many practicalities that need to be considered when writing a will and, without the right knowledge, it can be easy to miss vital details.
Speaking to a professional is also an opportunity to take impartial advice on how you’re dividing your estate and to ensure that you make an informed decision.
Mr Megson also noted that, of course, our lives can change and so too can our wishes. This is why making a will shouldn’t be a task that you do once and forget about it. It’s essential to regularly review your will to ensure it still reflects your wishes.