Making a will does not have to be time-consuming or complicated and nor should it be if you do not have a complex estate.
The fact that you choose to recognise that you do have value in your estate, whether it be the house you live in, the jewellery you own or cash in the bank and savings, means you have acknowledged you should make a will.
The effects of not making a will can be serious and there are many positive reasons to take this straightforward step:
- If you have children under 18 you can appoint guardians of your choice to look after them.
- You can alter the age at which your children will inherit. The age of 18 is often perceived as too young but it is what the law says if you have no will.
- You make sure you leave the value in your estate to those that will depend on access to it.
- You can provide for your partner where you are not married as the law does not take them into account.
- You can avoid arguments about who benefits from which personal belongings.
- You avoid distant or unintended family members inheriting your estate.
- You can leave gifts to charity or leave specific sums of money to named beneficiaries.
- You avoid excessive legal fees in the event of a dispute.
- You can avoid legal provisions that create unintended trusts that will need to be administered and therefore create unwanted cost.
I own everything jointly so I do not need a will
It is a commonly held belief that the joint ownership of property means a will is unnecessary, as the jointly held property will pass automatically to the surviving owner.
Subject to the type of ownership, the property may well pass this way but this ignores the other reasons to have a will (listed above) and importantly the surviving owner must make a will to ensure the property ultimately passes to the right people.