Willing to get writing? Here are a few things to consider

Thankfully, will writing is being given more air time than it used to, but, it still doesn’t stop nearly two thirds of us not having one.

Whilst reading an article in the Times over the weekend the same reasons come to light as to why people don’t write wills. Maybe they think they are too young, or, quite rightly, don’t want to think about death when they are still healthy and active. Perhaps it is because they simply assume their partner or spouse will automatically inherit their estate – but it is this last one that is particularly damaging for families.

If you die “intestate”, in other words when you die without a will, the law then decides who gets what. To speak plainly, it means that someone else who has never met you or your family will decide how your estate is divided. It means any wishes you have prior to your death will not be respected and it could lead to sure-fire family mishaps.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children, the first £250,000 of your estate and personal possessions do pass to your spouse, with the rest divided between your spouse and kids. However, considering the average house cost is just shy of that value, it doesn’t take long before an estate is entailed away. Plus, if you have grown up children who have become estranged, or you have step children, it might not be fair to simply divide it in this way.

If you are unmarried with no children, your assets will go straight to your parents. If they are not alive, the inheritance line goes along surviving relatives, starting with brothers and sisters and their children. In circumstances where there is no surviving relative, your estate passes to the Crown. The law does not recognise an unmarried partner no matter how long you have been together even if you have children.

Not only can having a will provide clarity and peace of mind, it can also speed up the process after a person dies, preventing any prolonged unhappiness among family members. There are a number of very simple ways you can write a will, but always ensure you seek advice from a solicitor to ensure it has the legal seal of approval.

For starters, I see a number of people present me with a sheet of paper they perceive to be a will, but actually it is worthless in the eyes of the law because they haven’t included a declaration confirming they have signed it in the presence of two witnesses. Those that have been signed by witnesses quite often just include a signature. That’s it. No contact details, such as an address and phone number. Equally invalid – otherwise how can anyone verify that they are a legitimate witness? You also have to be careful who can be a witness as you could unwittingly invalidate a gift in the will.

There are very strict rules surrounding the way in which will should be written. We know that most people don’t make writing a will a priority for a number of reasons, but, it is easier than you think with the right advice and relatively inexpensive too. Ultimately it is about carrying out your wishes and protecting your family – and who wouldn’t want that.

Our Private Client team at Downs Solicitors is well versed in helping clients write wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys. We work with you to make sure we are safeguarding your wishes and provide advice for the future should your circumstances change. Contact us for more information.

More blog posts from this author

An LPA could help protect vulnerable people against bank fraud

Bank fraud is an increasing problem - particularly during the pandemic. It’s difficult enough to navigate new online or remote services that we’re not used to, but if you’re not of sound mind it is even harder. If you are an attorney or deputy responsible for someone who is vulnerable, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, and them.

The pension pay due to tens of thousands of women - make sure you claim what’s yours

 Hundreds of women on state pension living on menial amounts could be entitled to back-dated claims worth thousands, according to a recent report.

Getting a joint account with children will not get around an LPA

Someone approached me recently and said they’d been thinking about some later life planning - always music to my ears. However, this individual said they didn’t feel ready for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and neither did their son, and asked if a joint bank account would instead provide an alternative solution. On the surface, this seemed acceptable, but from a legal perspective, it could prove to be a minefield.

More blog posts from this sector

An LPA could help protect vulnerable people against bank fraud

Bank fraud is an increasing problem - particularly during the pandemic. It’s difficult enough to navigate new online or remote services that we’re not used to, but if you’re not of sound mind it is even harder. If you are an attorney or deputy responsible for someone who is vulnerable, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, and them.

What type of Will is best for you

When embarking on having a will prepared, it is tempting and understandable to say that one wants a simple will only because one’s affairs are straightforward and there is nothing that is complicated. That would certainly be the case in many cases, but that may not be the case in others. 

The pension pay due to tens of thousands of women - make sure you claim what’s yours

 Hundreds of women on state pension living on menial amounts could be entitled to back-dated claims worth thousands, according to a recent report.

Our Team

Meet all of the team at Downslaw


Cobham

15A High Street
Cobham
Surrey
KT11 3DH

T: 01932 589599
F: 01932 505087

DX: 46102 COBHAM

Dorking

156 High Street
Dorking
Surrey
RH4 1BQ

T: 01306 880110
F: 01306 471230

DX: 57300 DORKING

Godalming

The Tanners
75 Meadrow
Godalming
Surrey
GU7 3HS

T: 01483 861848
F: 01483 431965

DX: 58308 GODALMING 1