Why should I make a will?
The purpose of a will is threefold:
1. to inform people what should happen to a person's money, personal possessions and property when they die. Taken together, these things are called a person's 'estate'
2. to inform people of who will be responsible for organising the deceased's estate and following instructions laid down in their will. This is called the 'executor' who will try to ensure that the instructions are followed (to the extent that they do not break the law). It is possible to name more than one person as an executor
3. to inform people about any other wishes a person has, such as burial or cremation instructions.
What happens if a person does not leave a will?
If a person does not leave a will, the law will determine how their estate is distributed - and this may not necessarily be in accordance with the deceased person's wishes.
This can result in the deceased person's property passing to someone that was not intended. Equally, a person who was intended to benefit from the deceased person's property may not receive anything.
What are the main benefits of having a will?
Irrespective of how much money, possessions or property a person has, there are always good reasons for having a will:
- A will can make everything easier for family members and friends to sort out, which saves time and relieves unnecessary stress during a difficult period
- A will can lower the amount of inheritance tax due on the value of the property and money left behind
- A will enables unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership to inherit from each other. Without a will, the death of one partner can create financial difficulties for the surviving partner
- A will can provide arrangements for children if one or both parents die. A will assumes even more importance when children are financially dependent on their parents and where the beneficiaries are outside their immediate family
- A will can accommodate changed circumstances, rendering any previous will invalid.