If you have dependents, you need to have a will.
If you’ve never got around to making a will this should be your prompt to finally make sure that your money and property are passed on according to your wishes.
1. Why you need to make a will
Making a will is essential to ensure that your wealth ends up in the right hands should the worst happen. If you die without making a will (called dying ‘intestate’, see below), the intestacy rules will determine who inherits what.
It’s also sensible to review your will every few years and consider amending it or even writing a new one if there is a change in your circumstances (for example, you get married, have children or get divorced).
2. What to put in your will
A will is an important document which allows you to state what should happen to your estate after you die. Most wills are made up of cash legacies, bequests and the residue. You can leave cash to relatives, friends or charities – these are used fixed sums to named individuals. Possessions, property and treasured objects can also be bequeathed to whomever you wish.
You will have to appoint ‘executors’ to your estate. Executors are people that carry out your wishes in accordance with your will. It’s best practice to name more than one executor – these are usually relatives, friends or even a solicitor.
3. How to make a will
Most people will invest in professional help when making a will, although it is possible to write your own. The main options are to use a solicitor, a will writing company or a bank (which might apply high charges for performing the role of sole or joint executor).
There are plenty of online will-writing services these days, including Which? Wills (see below). Simple wills start from around £80-£100, but if you and a spouse or partner want basically the same (mirror) wills, the combined cost will be less.
4. Dying without a will (intestate)
If you die without making a will the division of your estate can become very complicated and long-winded. If you die intestate your estate and property will be divided and distributed under the intestacy rules, according to something known as the Administration of Estates Act.
The rules are complex and vary according to whether you are married or have children. For instance, if you are married or in a civil partnership and have children, but haven’t written a will, your spouse will receive everything up to the first £250,000, with anything above that amount divided in two with half going to your children at age 18.
5. Which? Wills can help
If you need to put together a will and haven’t yet done so, Which? Wills can provide the solution.
The service is online and the fixed charge for a single will is £89 and £149 for mirror wills.
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