Did you watch the six-part ITV drama Finding Alice? (Warning: spoiler alert)
The story follows Alice, played by Keeley Hawes, whose partner of 20 years, Harry, dies after falling down the stairs at their home.
The suspense revolves around the gradual reveal of secrets that Harry had concealed from Alice involving business debt and crime.
This might all seem a little far-fetched and unrealistic, but when you boil it down what you’ve got is an unmarried couple with a teenage daughter, property and no will.
In Finding Alice Harry was the main earner of the family, while Alice works part-time, so when Harry dies without a will, Alice realises that she can’t access any of the money in Harry’s bank account, which she would normally rely on.
The house was in Harry’s name, not Alice’s, so with no will and being unmarried, the property would be inherited by their daughter and Harry’s son from a previous relationship, with Alice having no claim to the house.
In the show, the plot thickens further when it is revealed that Harry signed the house over to his parents after they invested in his business (never intending for them to actually get the property).
Even without the added drama of debt and crime, Alice’s situation was a mess caused largely by her and her partner not having made wills.
An unmarried couple living together and having children – some from previous relationships, with no will suddenly doesn’t seem so far removed from real life. In fact, it’s something that a lot of people will identify with.
For me, the show really did highlight the risks of not making a will and never getting around to organising your affairs completely.
The problems are especially acute if you are unmarried or have a complex family situation, but even if you are married and consider your circumstances to be fairly straightforward, without a will your spouse may not automatically inherit all of your money and assets.
We are unlikely to find ourselves in the midst of a Finding Alice style drama, but one thing is certain, we all need to make a will, regardless of our circumstances.
The good news is that making your will is easy if you use a qualified solicitor. It can even be done remotely during the lockdown and will provide you and your family with peace of mind.