WillsDie will-less and your affairs can be in limbo for years. Yet many either don’t want to think about making a will or are worried about the cost. You must be aware it could leave behind big problems, possibly as severe as being unable to pay the bills as the bank’s locked off the money. So…

Whatever your age, if you’ve assets eg, a house, savings, or a business, and people or others you’d like to look after, consider making a will.

While thinking, talking and planning for death may feel uncomfortable, you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you died or became incapacitated – through illness, accident, old age or emergency – without sorting it.

There are many specific reasons for writing a will, including:


If you have children or step-children under 18, you should choose who will look after them and ensure there are funds to help.

Unmarried couples

The law doesn’t really recognise this, so don’t expect anything to go to your partner if you don’t make a will.


You may want to update your will to include what happens to your assets if a previous partner remarries.


Decide what should happen to family pets.

Specific funeral plans

If you know what you want your funeral to be like, you can detail it so that your family doesn’t have to make the decisions. Click Here for more information about Funeral Plans


‘Joint tenant’ mortgages automatically pass to the other owner. If you’ve a ‘tenants in common’ mortgage, it’s important to say what happens to your share of the house. If you own a property overseas, inheritance laws may be different to the UK.

Change in circumstances

Update your will when you marry, divorce or have kids.

Small businesses

If you’re a sole director, it’s possible that if you die without executors, nobody can authorise payments (including to staff), so your business could collapse.

What does a will do?

Writing a will has four main functions:

To name your executors

These are the people who’ll look after the financial process when you die. Try to choose a responsible and trusted friend or relative, who can think clearly in a troubled time. Alternatively some name a bank or solicitor, though they often charge monstrous fees, so make sure you only allow this if you’ve chosen it for yourself.

They’re also the people who will sort out finances – such as paying off the mortgage and/or other debts out of your estate.

Distribute your estate

This is where you work out who you want your estate to go to. That means everything you own at the point you die, including your property, businesses, car, savings, investments, pension fund, life insurance, expensive jewellery, pets and more.

Be aware, though, you can’t force people to take what you leave them. Whether it’s a sofa, or a house in negative equity, they don’t have to take it. If a person disclaims a bequest, it goes in with the residue of the estate. This is dealt with under the residuary clause in the will.

To provide for any surviving children aged under 18

If you die responsibility for your children will automatically go to anyone else with ‘parental responsibility’. Mothers automatically have this, as do fathers if they’re married to the mother. If the parents are not married, the father may have automatic parental responsibility if the children were born in 2003 or later and the father was named on the birth certificate.

People with dependent children usually use a will to name a guardian(s) for their children, and also to allocate funds to ensure they’re financially supported while growing up.

If you don’t make a will, and there is no one else with parental responsibility, the courts will decide what happens to your child in the event of your death.

To mitigate inheritance tax

If you die intestate (without a will) there are strict laws about to whom and how your estate is distributed. This causes two problems. First, the money may not go where you want, and secondly, it’s likely to be inefficient for inheritance tax purposes.

The law says you pay 40% of any assets worth over £325,000 that you leave, so those with valuable houses or larger estates could pay a fortune. Yet there are many legal ways you can plan ahead to reduce this.

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