You may think having a Will is only for the rich but if you’re 18 or over there’s a good chance you need a Will. Without a Will whatever you own could be left to people you didn’t intend to leave it to.
So firstly what actually is a Will?
Well, it’s a legally binding document that outlines your wishes for what you want to happen to all the stuff that you own once you die.
For example, say you had a rare collection of Michael Jackson vinyl records and you wanted to leave them to your best mate. You can state who you want to leave them to in your Will and it will be legally binding. Without a Will the Michael Jackson records could be left with your next of kin.
The same goes for your house, your car and your money.
3 reasons you need a Will
#1 – Without one you are at the mercy of the courts
If you die without a Will then the courts will decide what happens to everything you own.
There are strict rules that state who gets what and these are called the Rules of Intestacy.
These rules can be very disadvantageous for couples who are not married or in a civil partnership. Basically the partner gets nothing. Even if you have children together, the children could potentially inherit rather than your partner (their mother/father)!
#2 – You can choose someone you trust to look after things
When you create a Will you choose who you would like to look after the administration of sorting out all your stuff when you’ve gone (called an Executor). This can involve things like liaising with the tax man, registering your Will and distributing what you own.
By creating a Will you can choose someone you trust to carry out the wishes in your Will. If you don’t have a Will then the courts will decide and it will most likely be your next of kin, who might be someone you’ve actually fallen out with and don’t trust.
#3 – Making things easier for your family
Your family will be going through a pretty tough time as it is dealing with losing you. If you don’t have a Will and haven’t made things clear then they could suffer a lot of stress trying to decide who gets what.
This can in turn lead to many arguments and challenges from people who think they are entitled to your property.
A Will just makes everything clearer and easier.
How to create a Will
There are 4 main ways to create a Will.
#1 – Do it yourself
In theory you could just write out your wishes on a blank piece of paper and provided it was signed and witnessed by two independent adults, that could be considered a valid Will.
This might be fine if your situation is very simple.
But the problem with this is that the law has very strict language that needs to be used to ensure there is no misunderstanding. If you don’t get this language right your DIY Will could be open to challenge.
#2 – Use a template Will
You could buy an ‘off the shelf’ Will which would help you ensure you use the right wording to confirm your wishes. But these types of Wills will not deal with more complex cases, for example, if you own property, run a business or have foreign assets.
#3 – Use a Will writing company
A Will writing company is different to a solicitor in that they do not usually have a legal qualification. They instead are trained in how to write Wills.
They could be good for simple cases and where you want to pay less than you would for a solicitor.
#4 – Use a solicitor
A solicitor will be fully qualified and will be regulated more than a Will writing company.
Definitely a must for more complex cases but you will pay more.
The cost of creating your Will will vary depending on what method you use. From free (if you do it yourself), £15-£30 if you buy a template, or between £100 – £250 if you use a professional.
Protect what you’ve built, protect your family and make it easier for the ones you leave behind.
You need a Will.