9th August 2020
When you’re young, thinking about death is probably not something you do very often. That’s understandable. You may think you’re too young to have a will, however it’s something all adults should have drafted for some very compelling reasons.
A will controls how your estate is handled and who benefits from it when you die. If you die without a will, the rules of intestacy apply. This means you cannot choose how your estate is divided because it must be distributed according to the law. Without a will, you give up all control as to how your estate is handled after your passing.
If that sounds undesirable to you, you’ll want to consider writing a will. We recommend that you have a will or review your existing will at significant moments in your life.
Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios in which it’s important to have a will and how not having one prepared can affect your loved ones:
1. You Have Children
The moment you have children, you must consider what would happen to them if you die during their childhood. Using your will to appoint a guardian to raise your children allows you to maintain some control over their care if you are no longer alive. The importance of this can’t be overlooked. If your wishes are not known, your children could find themselves in the middle of a disagreement between family and friends at a very trying time.
2. You Live With An Unmarried Partner
Common law marriage doesn’t exist in the UK, even if you have lived with your partner for years. If you die without writing a will, the intestacy rules would mean that your partner would receive nothing from your estate.
You also need to consider how you own your home. If you and your partner own your property as ‘joint tenants’, your partner would automatically own the home in their sole name if you were to die. However, if you two own the property as ‘tenants in common’, your share of the home would become part of your estate and would pass to your beneficiaries according to your will or the intestacy rules.
Your will can also include certain rights to enable your co-inhabitant to live in the home for a specified period of time. This will allow them to maintain their residence while ensuring that the asset still passes to your chosen beneficiaries.
3. You Have Pets
Pets are part of the family and you’ll want to to make sure they’ll be cared for if they outlive you. In your will, you can nominate someone you trust to take care of your pets.
You’ll want to find someone willing and able to take on this role. You can also choose to leave behind money to the nominated person so they won’t have to cover all of the related expenses out of pocket.
4. You Want To Give Someone Access To Your Digital Assets
Digital assets such as photos, social media accounts, music collections, email accounts, and more may not be physical possessions, but they can still hold a great deal of sentimental and monetary value. In your will, you can make specific provisions for these assets or select a particular person to handle them.
You’ll want to list out all your digital assets in your will so that the executor knows what they are. Without doing so, you risk the assets going unclaimed by anyone as people may not even realise they exist.
5. You Have Specific Provisions For A Relative Or Friend
Do you have any special items you wish to pass down to a particular person? It could be a family heirloom like a piece of jewelry you want your niece to inherit, or a comic book collection you want your friend to have. Writing your living will can help ensure these items go where you intend them to.
You can also use your will to allocate a set sum of money from your estate. For example, maybe you want to leave £10,000 to your cousin.
6. You Want To Make Sure Someone Doesn’t Benefit From Your Estate
If you have separated from a partner but have not dissolved your marriage or civil partnership, under the law they will still inherit a considerable portion of your estate if you were to die. These rules are fixed and you can’t get around them. If you want to ensure that a previous partner doesn’t benefit from your estate, you need to have a will that clearly states this and provides who should benefit instead.
While your will could be contested, writing one helps establish your wishes and intentions in the event a claim is made.
7. You Have Funeral Wishes
Discussing your funeral may be an uncomfortable conversation you may not want to have. In your will, you can provide instructions regarding your funeral arrangements. For example you may have religious practices you want followed or perhaps you prefer to be cremated instead of buried.
Be aware that funeral wishes are not binding and executors are not required to follow them. However, setting out your preferences beforehand can help avoid family disagreements and make it easier for your loved ones to decide.
You are never too young to write a will. Making a will and keeping it up-to-date is the best way to make sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. Not having a living will can create some uncomfortable situations for your family and friends when the time comes. We know that thinking about your death can be unsettling. This is why Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors offers a friendly and approachable team to help you plan for the future with ease. Contact us today to learn more about our will writing services.