At what age should I write a will?
The age at which one should write a will depends, to some extent, on individual circumstances. You can make a will any time after you are 18 years old, but there are some life events that you might think of as triggers for the preparation of a will.
Becoming Financially Independent From Your Parents
Some people quickly become financially independent from their parents, whereas others, perhaps because they are attending university or are in post-graduate study, continue to be dependent on them well into their twenties.
Under the intestacy rules, if an unmarried person without children dies without writing a will, his assets will go to his parents (or if he has no living parents, then to various other relatives). This might be fine while you continue to be dependent on your parents – since, after all, they probably gave you most of what you own. But on achieving financial independence and acquiring some assets of your own, you may begin to think differently. Perhaps there are other people or groups you’d like to leave assets to?
Marriage, civil partnership, or even the recognition that a couple is in a long-term relationship, might be a trigger for the making of a will. Those triggers may have less to do with age than an acknowledgement that you want to provide for your spouse or partner in a manner that is different to what the intestacy rules would dictate. That might be especially true for long-term couples who are not married or in civil partnerships, but who own a house together or otherwise have arrangements that would be disrupted if the intestacy rules were to apply.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average age for first marriage is around 30 for men and 28 for women. That, of course, can vary enormously, but it would seem reasonable for people in their late 20s or early 30s to consider making a will.
When you have children, you are likely to have two main concerns about what happens if you should die: First and foremost, who will look after them; and second, what assets will be available to provide for their welfare. A will enables you to address both these points, as you can use it to appoint guardians for your children and to allocate money and other assets (by way of a trust or otherwise) for the benefit of your children.
A person who re-marries, either after a divorce or the death of a spouse, will want to make a new will, as any prior will (other than one made in anticipation of the new marriage) will be automatically revoked by the new marriage. This applies equally to civil partnerships.
A person with a terminal illness who does not have a will may want to make a will rather than have his entire assets pass under the intestacy rules. It sometimes happens that people with terminal illnesses have a particular desire to make a charitable bequest to a hospice, a charity related to their disease or to the care and treatment they have received.
Although a mentally competent person can make a will any time after the age of 18, it is more likely to be a life event, rather than attaining any particular age, that will lead him or her to write a will. When anticipating events involving family relationships, children or an unmarried partner in a long-term relationship, one will want to consider making a will and, if appropriate, take professional advice with a view to doing so.