Your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). Making a will doesn’t need to be complicated, but even if you are only leaving a few things or a small amount of money, it can save your family unnecessary distress at an already difficult time, to have your wishes clearly set out
Do I need a will?
Yes, People often feel that because they are not leaving much they don’t need to make a will. But making a will is important because:
- A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will the process can be more time consuming and stressful.
- If you don’t have a will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law. People you would like to leave something to – such as a partner you are not married to – may end up with nothing. Having a will is the only way to ensure that your money and possessions are shared between the people and causes you care about in the way that you want. You can even specify simple things, like people you would like to leave particular sentimental items to.
- Without a will, no one knows your wishes, and the people who are important to you may have to make some difficult decisions and may even argue about how your estate should be divided up.
- If your estate is worth more than £325,000, a will can help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax that may be payable on the value of any property and money that you leave.
- Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.
When should I make a will?
People often put off making their will, thinking that it is something they can do at a later stage. In theory you can write your will at any time, but if you put it off, time often runs away with you, and you may find you are coping with other things and don’t feel able to make a will. If you wait until you are receiving end of life care or are in a hospice, or until you are very unwell, you may not be able to make a will, as you may be considered by the law to lack mental capacity. It is better to do it when you are reasonably well and are feeling up to it. Knowing you have done it can also help to clear your mind of unnecessary worries, helping you to relax and make the most of the time you have.
What do I need to include in my will?
There are a few things that a will should set out:
- whom you want to benefit from your will (your beneficiaries)
- 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
- funeral wishes can also be included