We recently had a look at some myths with Lasting Powers of Attorney, so here are 10 common misconceptions about writing a Will.
1. “I already have a will – I don’t need a new one”
You already have a will in place. Great! Do you know where it is? Even if you have a will it’s best to keep it under review to make sure that it still matches your personal circumstances. After all, you wouldn’t purchase a car and assume it doesn’t need any maintenance for the rest of your life.
Here at the SWW we recommend everyone reviews their will every 3 to 5 years or earlier if your situation changes. These changes could be due to marriage, divorce, birth of new children or grandchildren, death of a beneficiary, or even coming into some money. This also makes sure you keep abreast of any changes to the law that effect your planning so you can be sure that your will is as effective as possible.
2. “Everything will go to my partner anyway”
A dangerous assumption but one that we face every day. For some people this is actually correct, but are you sure it’s true for you? If you die without a will the “rules of intestacy” will apply and your estate will be distributed to surviving relatives by a strict hierarchy.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you have no children then if you die all of your assets will pass to your spouse or civil partnership. This is also the case for married couples and civil partners who have children but whose estates are valued at less than £250,000. For everyone else the situation is much more complicated.
If you and your partner are unmarried or have not entered into a civil partnership then the rules of intestacy are not your friend. Intestacy doesn’t recognise these relationships so your partner would receive no benefit from your estate. The concept of ‘common law marriage’ is only a myth and has no legal basis.
3. “Making a will is complicated”
Making a will doesn’t need to be a complicated process. You can see a professional and highly skilled Will Writer in the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. The benefit of using a professional Will Writer is that they will be able to advise you every step of the way and the complicated bits like actually writing the will and dealing with HM Land Registry will all be handled by your Will Writer for you. Giving your instructions for your will can be as simple as having a chat over a nice cup of tea.
4. “Making a will is morbid”
We don’t like to talk about death. It’s a topic that can make people feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that the process of making a will has to be a solemn affair. We prefer to look at the positive side of writing a will. By putting a will in place you’re giving yourself peace of mind because you’ll know that your affairs will be in order. You’ll also know that your family or those who are important to you will be taken care of.
5. “Once I’ve written a will it can’t be changed”
This is another one that we hear quite often. There is a general fear that once you have written a will that’s it. Well thankfully that’s not the case! As long as you retain the capacity to make a will you are totally free to revoke it or to write a new will at any point. In fact, we encourage it (see point 1)!
6. “I need a solicitor to write a will”
While we certainly recommend using a professional to write your will that doesn’t need to be a solicitor. With 1700 professional Will Writers who are SWW members there are plenty of specialists out there who you can be sure are properly trained, insured, and ultimately safe to do business with.
7. “My family will sort everything out between themselves once I’m gone”
Unfortunately, if you die without a will your family will not be able to distribute your estate however they wish. Your estate would pass according to the rules of intestacy, which is essentially the will that the government has written for you. The only way to guarantee that your assets pass to who you want them to on death is to have a will.
8. “Wills are for the rich – I don’t have anything to give”
Most people have something of value when they die. You may not be rich, you may not own your own home, but you almost definitely have something. Whether this is some money in the bank, jewellery, or even items that have no real monetary value but are quite sentimental to you. Chances are you’d want to make sure the assets you do have end up in the right hands.
9. “My debts will die with me”
Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, it’s not true. If you die with any debts outstanding these will need to be paid from your estate. Your will can direct where everything left over will pass and can make specific gifts of certain assets, so they won’t fall into the pot to be sold to cover debts unless absolutely necessary.
10. “Wills are for the elderly or the ill”
While a person who is elderly or ill may require a will more urgently, wills are for everyone over 18 with mental capacity. Writing a will shouldn’t be put off as the longer you leave it the more risk there is of it being too late. Even if you are at the other end of the spectrum and are young and healthy you can still benefit from a will, especially if you have minor children. A will isn’t all about distributing your assets on death, it is also an important document to appoint guardians. These are people who you appoint to formally take care of your minor children if you were to die.
If you haven’t yet written a Will, or would like to update an existing Will, speak to one of our members. You can search for them through our Find a Member section, or call us on 01522 687888.