It’s a sad statistic that the number of people in the UK without a Will is at an all-time high. Over 31 million of us now run the risk of dying intestate. That might sound like just another piece of legal-jargon thrown out there to scare and confuse us all, but in reality it is a term that has big consequences and shouldn’t be dismissed in a cloud of “I don’t want to think about this!”
Put simply, if you die without having a Will in place you die ‘intestate’. This means your property and possessions will be distributed according to the law and may not go to the people you want them to. In some cases, assets pass to the Treasury (Government).
It is said that all that is certain in life is death and taxes! Now, that’s not a statement that is going to lift your spirits and have you skipping down the street, but it does put a certain practical spin on things. Thinking about your Will is not a morbid thing – you make practical choices every day to look after yourself and your family. Making a Will is just one other choice that is sensible to make.
It doesn’t matter how simple or complicated you consider your personal circumstances to be. There are few or no examples where having a Will would be detrimental to you. It also makes things easier for your loved ones. Dying without a Will can have many cost and time implications, making an already upsetting situation even more difficult to deal with.
Five things you may not know about Wills:
1. Rules about creating a valid Will
Although the Will writing industry is unregulated in England and Wales there are some rules about creating a valid Will; such as making sure it is signed and witnessed correctly, by appropriate people. The wording contained in a Will is also crucial to ensure there is no misinterpretation and that it is clear to all concerned what your intentions are. Using a specialist lawyer to help you draft your Will ensures that the will is valid and contains the appropriate wording so it cannot be misconstrued by anyone looking to challenge your Will.
2. The cost of a Will
There are many Will writing services available today – from DIY kits to professionally prepared Wills. The price and quality of these services can vary greatly and it’s not always clear from the outset what the final costs are going to be. Using a free or cheap DIY kit might get the job done but may not leave you confident that everything has been covered effectively, using the correct wording. You are not obliged to use a lawyer to help you create your Will but, if you do, we’d recommend using one that offers transparent fixed-fees from the outset, like MRIB Legal Services.
3. Wills need to be reviewed
A Will can only be expected to reflect your personal circumstances at the time it is written. If your circumstances change at any point; if you marry or divorce, if you move home or have children, you should review your Will and update it as necessary. Once a Will has been signed it cannot be edited off the cuff and remain valid, you will need the help of a lawyer but bear in mind there might be a cost involved. At MRIB Legal Services we offer free lifetime reviews on our Wills.
4. Common law marriages
The rules of intestacy don’t recognise a longstanding partner or ‘common law marriage’. This means that if an unmarried person doesn’t have a Will in place and passes away leaving a partner, the partner won’t inherit any of their assets.
5. Lasting Powers of Attorney
Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney are entirely different documents. A Lasting Power of Attorney gives someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions about your health or financial affairs if you were to lose mental or physical ability. People listed as executors in your Will do not have this authority during your lifetime.
If you’d like to know more about Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney please contact MRIB Legal Services on 01494 611 770 or firstname.lastname@example.org