A recent survey by the Will Aid charity found that over half of all adults in the UK do not have a Will, 51.6% say the reason is they have just not got around to it.
Changing Intestacy rules mean more families are being disinherited or paying high inheritance taxes. Due to rising house prices properties have soared in value and beneficiaries of an estate are affected by inheritance tax.
Young people are the least likely to have made a Will and 35% of people with no will have dependent children and have not assigned guardians for them.
Almost 44% of those who are married or in a civil partnership have not written a Will. Almost 70% of cohabiting couples have no Will and in these cases the surviving partner would have no automatic right to inherit.
Extended families also make things more complicated, there are often stepchildren and half-siblings to consider. The more extended the family, the more likely the chance of a row if a Will is not in place.
There is a popular myth that the "common-law" spouse is afforded legal rights this is not the case, the entire estate of an unmarried couple with no children would go to the blood relatives of the deceased, the partner gets nothing.
Pearson Legal's Private Client Solicitor, Hannah Pearson, said: “New Year has always been a time for reflection, and more importantly, to look forward to the coming year. It is a time to make resolutions on the changes we want (or need) to make. As we know, many resolutions are made with the best intentions but never achieved.
“At present, one in three people in the UK dies without making a will, and half of all people over the age of 45 have not made a will, but everyone who has property and who cares about what will happen to it on his or her death should make a Will. If you die without one, your money and possessions may be distributed to people you do not believe should inherit them,” she warned.
Top Ten things to consider when making a Will is your New Year Resolution
Your Will should state:
who you want to benefit
who should look after any children under 18
who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you
You will need legal advice if your Will isn’t straightforward:
you share a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner
you want to leave money or property to a dependant who can’t care for themselves
you have several family members who may make a claim on your will, eg a second spouse or children from another marriage
your permanent home is outside the UK
you have property overseas
you have a business
Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicito