The only reliable way of ensuring that your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes after your death is to make a will. Where no valid will is left, an estate is distributed by the intestacy rules so friends, charities and relatives may be left with nothing.
It is particularly important to make a will if you are not married or in a registered civil partnership. This is because the law does not automatically recognise cohabitants (partners who live together) as having the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners. As a result, even if you’ve lived together for many years, your cohabitant may be left with nothing if you have not made a will.
A will is also essential where you have children. A will allows you to appoint guardians who will care for your children as well as trustees who will handle the money that you leave them.
A properly constructed will ensures that:
- Your wishes are carried out as you intended
- There is no room for misunderstanding or dispute
- Your spouse and children are provided for properly
- Children under the age of 18 have guardians appointed to look after their interests until adulthood
- Your preferred funeral arrangements are clearly stated
- There is an opportunity to minimise tax liability
- You have the opportunity of selecting the executors of your estate
- The estate is wound up in as short a time as possible
Once you have had a will drawn up, some changes to your circumstances – for example, marriage, civil partnership, separation or divorce – can make all or part of that will invalid or inadequate. This means that you must review your will regularly, to reflect any major life changes. We can advise you of changes that may be necessary to update your will.
Once your wills have been signed and witnessed, we will store the wills at our offices securely and confidentially free of charge.