You might think a Will is no big deal – if you pass away, everything goes to your partner or kids, right?
However, there are several factors that can complicate matters, including if you and your partner are not married, if you are a divorcee, if you have stepchildren, if you own assets overseas (such as a holiday home) and so on.
A Will sets out your intentions for your estate – so you’re not left to the specifics of intestacy rules.
It needs to be watertight so there’s no legal reason why your wishes can’t be carried out, but simply by existing, a good Will means you will not be deemed as having died intestate.
You should consider writing a Will if:
- You co-own property or a business with someone who is not your civil partner, husband or wife.
- You have a permanent home outside the UK, but are a British citizen.
- You want to make specific provision for your dependants.
- You want to leave a charitable legacy (for tax purposes or simply to support a good cause).
- You have specific high-value possessions you want to leave to a certain individual.
Any other complexities in your estate probably make a Will a good idea – generally speaking, it’s best not to die intestate if you can help it.
It must be legal, and it’s easy to make a mistake, such as having it witnessed by the wrong person (or nobody at all) and inadvertently locking an intended beneficiary out of inheriting anything as a result.
Crucially, your Will must be found - if nobody knows it exists, you’re likely to be declared intestate.
Leave it in an agreed place, or have your solicitor store it safely for you, and make sure any old Wills are destroyed so there’s no confusion over which is the correct representation of your wishes.
You should update your Will if there’s a major change in your estate, such as selling your home or other property – and it’s often easier (and no more expensive) to write an entirely new one if this occurs, rather than trying to have your existing one changed without invalidating any of it.