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Your Legal Question Answered: Do I need a Will?

Legal Advice

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Do I need a will? It’s a question we have heard many times and the answer is undoubtedly, yes. However, recent research carried out by the insurance company Royal London in 2018 found that over 50% of adults in the UK did not have a valid will, with 59% of parents not having a will in place at all.

We’ve created this article and the video below to explain why it’s so important to have a will and how you can create one. Watch Richard Swaine, one of our Directors at Lockings Solicitors, as he gives straightforward legal advice about whether or not you need a will, or read this article to learn more.

What Is a Will?

A will, or a last will and testament as it’s officially known, is a legal document outlining your wishes after you die. It covers how you want your property, personal possessions and other assets to be distributed, what your wishes are regarding the care of your children and your funeral requests.

Why Do You Need a Will?

While creating a will might just seem like a formality regarding your financial affairs, it’s so much more than that.

Your will can save your loved ones time and money when you pass. They will be grieving your death and won’t have the emotional energy to deal with your whole estate, arrange the care of your dependents and plan your funeral.

A will writing service is also more affordable than a probate service for your family. However, it’s often best to steer clear of free will drafting services — many companies who offer this will be poorly trained, uninsured and unregulated. It’s better to get help with estate planning from local solicitors you can trust and create a properly signed will.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will?

If you die without a will in place, it can cause undue stress for your family members and loved ones. Here are some of the implications of not drafting your own will.

  • The law will decide how your estate is divided. Strict inheritance laws known as intestacy rules will dictate how your estate is distributed. Under intestacy rules, only your legal spouse, blood relatives and adopted children will be entitled to your estate.
  • Your wishes may not be followed. If you had loved ones who you intended to leave anything to, such as a new spouse or civil partner, they might not receive the benefits you’d intended for them.
  • Modern family members won’t be considered or provided for. Even if you live with your partner, they won’t have a legal entitlement to your property or assets, and they may even lose your family home if you aren’t married or in a registered civil partnership,
  • The court will decide what happens to your children. In the event that you pass away, leaving behind any surviving children without a responsible parent, they will be appointed legal guardians by a court.
  • Your family might need to pay inheritance tax. Without a will in place, your family members may be left to deal with and potentially pay inheritance tax. A will can help you avoid this.
  • A lack of a will can cause family disputes. A legally binding document leaves no room for interpretation, whereas when you don’t have a will, it can lead to family disputes. Many people will have multiple loved ones with a beneficial interest in their property and other assets, so disagreements may arise over who gets what and what your wishes were.
  • Your funeral wishes may not be followed. Your will lays out more than just the division of your estate. It also covers your desired funeral plans. When your loved ones don’t have this guidance, planning your funeral can become a more stressful process.

The only way to make sure all of your wishes are followed is to create a legally binding will.

Are All Wills Legally Binding?

The short answer is no. Not all wills are created equal. Because will are most commonly written by solicitors, who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), there hasn’t ever been regulations applied to will writing in itself.

This means that as well as choosing local solicitors to create a legally binding document, you could choose unregulated free will drafting services or even make your own will. But when you choose an unregulated route, your wishes aren’t protected by law.

A small mistake could cause misinterpretations of your wishes or even affect the validity of your will.

However, when your will writer is a Law Society solicitor, you can rest assured that they will be followed and enforced by law when you leave instructions for after your death.

Another aspect to consider is that solicitors will have indemnity insurance in place, guaranteeing you compensation in the unlikely event that losses or damages are sustained as a result of the will they have written.

When Do I Need to Update My Will?

As a general rule, a will should be reviewed every five years or as and when your circumstances change.

For example, if you have children, get married or divorced, move home, acquire new assets or life insurance policies, or if anything happens to your named executor.

If you don’t update your will, many of the consequences listed above can still apply. There may be disagreements if you leave assets to an ex-partner or particular people are left out because of an old will.

You might have an existing will that was drafted during a previous marriage or before another person came into your life. When you update your new will, you can make sure participating solicitors are aware of any changes to your circumstances so that all the assets can be divided equally or in accordance with your wishes.

Create or Update a Will with Legal Advice You Can Trust

At Lockings Solicitors, we offer trustworthy and transparent legal advice without the lawyer-speak. We have local solicitors in Hull, Beverley, the East Riding of Yorkshire and York who can help you create or update a thorough last will and testament.

We’ll help you express your wishes clearly, take care of your whole estate and leave assets to particular people. But most importantly, we’ll help you give one last gift to your loved ones — a document that can save them time, money and stress when they’re grieving your loss.

Find out more about our will writing services or get in touch with our friendly team — we’re always happy to discuss your personal circumstances and advise on your next best steps. 

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