A will is a vital piece of paperwork that will protect your loved ones in the event of your death. But our recent survey discovered that half of UK adults do not have one.
“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” wrote Earnest Becker in his book, The Denial of Death.
For some, it’s a fear strong enough to compel us to eat five a day, brave a rainy run at 6am on a Monday morning, slather on the factor 50 abroad and visit our GP regularly with a serious bout of hypochondria.
But strangely the fear of dying means many don’t confront its inevitability – and therefore prepare for it.
So, to help you understand why preparation is key to combating this Thanatophobia (yes, it has a medical name) we have put together 10 reasons why making a will is necessary:
- A properly written will ensures that your wishes regarding your estate are passed on. If you do not leave a will, the law decides how your estate is divided. This means that your intended wishes may not be carried out.
- If you have children under the age of 18, you have a responsibility to assign guardians to them – using your will. If you fail to write a will, the court will decide who gets custody of your children.
- Having a will prepared ensures that you can determine who looks after all your affairs when you have passed away. An executor has the biggest job and most responsibility so it’s important that you pick someone who is organised and trustworthy.
- Would you like to leave a gift or donation to a charity close to your heart? When writing a will, you can make this wish clear to ensure it is followed.
- If you are living with your partner but you are not married, you can specify in your will whether you would like for them to inherit some or all of your property. If this isn’t clarified, there is no guarantee that they will receive anything.
- You can reduce the chance of arguments. In the event that you pass away without a will, certain people have the right to apply to court if they believe that they are entitled to a share of your estate. Although a will can sometimes still be challenged on the basis it is believed to be unfair, the court is more hesitant to interfere in the circumstances that a clear will has been left.
- A will allows you to leave very specific wishes. For example, if you have a piece of jewellery that you would like for someone to have, you can leave details of this in a letter of wishes which accompanies your will.
- Once you have a will drawn up, you can update it whenever necessary. For example, if you were to become a homeowner or have a child after writing your will, you can simply update the will in regards to your new life circumstances.
- You can specify when you would like for a beneficiary to receive their inheritance. If you have children, they would receive their inheritance outright at the age of 18. However, should you wish for them to receive it when they are older, for example when they turn 21, you can specify this.
- You can make arrangements for tax planning where your estate is liable for Inheritance Tax. The amount of Inheritance Tax you are charged is dependant on how big your estate is and who you leave it to. For example, if you plan on leaving your property to your children, this is likely to cause the inheritance bill to be less than if you were to leave it to a friend.
If you are part of the 50% of adults in the UK who have put off writing your will, there is still time for you to book an appointment with a participating Will Aid solicitor to have your will professionally drawn up.
Making a will with Will Aid is easy. Will Aid is a partnership between solicitors and nine of the UK’s best-loved charities.
Every November, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic will in return for a suggested voluntary donation of £100 for a single will and £180 for a pair of mirror wills.
To find a solicitor in your area visit https://www.willaid.org.uk/will-makers/find-a-solicitor or call 0300 0309 558.