The majority of us don’t have a Will. In fact in 2014, the Law Society reported that only 36% of British adults have written a Will, so all those of us who have yet to get round to it are in good company. It’s no excuse though, because without a Will we are leaving things too much to chance.

Providing For Children

Minor children can’t inherit until 18, so all kinds of confusion and upset can result if you don’t make a Will. In your Will you can make arrangements for people you love and trust to take over the legal guardianship of your children until they come of age, and you can put in place trust funds to help them manage their inheritance when they’re old enough.

Providing For Extended Families

Extended families are common in modern life. You may have been married more than once or have children from other unmarried partners. Other circumstances include your current partner’s children, who you have no biological relationship to.

Under current intestacy rules, stepchildren have no right of inheritance so, while your biological children may receive a share of your estate without a Will, your stepchildren won’t. The only way to include them is to name them in your Will. Even saying, “I leave to my children…”, won’t include them. You need to call them by name.

Providing For Unmarried Partners

Just as with stepchildren, unmarried partners have no right of inheritance either. Most people assume that their possessions will naturally go to their nearest and dearest but, unfortunately, the rules of intestacy don’t work like this, Unmarried partners (regardless of how long you’ve been together) are amongst those who lose out.

Without a Will, your possessions will go to your closest blood relations and if you don’t have any blood relations everything you own or leave behind will go to the state.

If you have an unmarried partner you want to leave part or all of your estate to, making a Will is the only way to ensure they benefit.

Ways To Make A Will 

It’s not hard to make a Will, it just takes a little time and effort. There are three main ways to go about it:

  • Through a solicitor
  • A Will Writing service
  • A DIY template

A solicitor is the safest, preferred way as those with probate experience will guide you through all the steps and make sure you leave nothing out, as well  as making sure everything is worded properly. If you don’t have a family solicitor, or a friend who can recommend one, you can find one in your area through the Law Society website.

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The second way, using a Will Writing Service, is a little more risky as they are not regulated. By choosing one that belongs to the Institute of Professional Will Writers you can make sure they at least have a code of practice that is approved by the Trading Standards Institute Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, giving some protection if things go wrong.

The third way is to use a do-it-yourself template, which you can buy on the High Street. The danger with this method is that most people are not familiar with how to write a Will, so can accidentally introduce mistakes or ambiguities that leave their meaning unclear. 

Remembering Charities

Making a Will also gives you the opportunity to leave a legacy or gift to a favourite charity. Lots of us choose to donate to good causes during the course of our lives, and find it an attractive proposition to carry on when we’re gone.

Leaving a legacy is as easy as leaving gifts to friends or family. All you need do is name the charity in your Will (including the registered charity number to avoid confusion), and say what your gift is. It can help if you establish a connection to the charity beforehand, or at least explain in your Will why you want to leave the legacy.

The best place to start making a Will is to draw up a list of those you want to leave something to, detailing what you want to leave them. Some people find it hard to get started, so some charities have Will Planner sections on their website that you may find of help.

Making a Will is a positive, caring thing to do, and in today’s uncertain world brings peace of mind that you’ve prepared for the future.