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No will: what does it mean for you and your family?

PUBLISHED: 15:44 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 27 June 2019

Without a will, your estate falls under the government’s strict intestacy rules which mean that you get no say as to who inherits what.

Without a will, your estate falls under the government's strict intestacy rules which mean that you get no say as to who inherits what.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Many make the mistake of believing they're too young - or it will be too stressful - to write a will and, let's face it, we don't enjoy thinking about our deaths. Associate solicitor Claire Nelson, of Cozens-Hardy's specialist wills, trusts and probates team explains why this can cause huge problems in the future.

No matter your age, writing a will can give you the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of after you're goneNo matter your age, writing a will can give you the peace of mind that your family will be taken care of after you're gone

What happens if you don't have a will?

The number one misconception is to assume that partners or spouses get everything. Without a will, your estate falls under the government's strict intestacy rules which mean that you get no say as to who inherits what. If you're unmarried, your partner has no automatic right to inherit anything, no matter how long you've been together.

It's worth noting that the rules of intestacy don't define family in the same way that you might. Despite your relationships with half-blood relatives (e.g. half-siblings),they aren't treated the same as full blood ones. The laws of intestacy don't account for family fallouts either, meaning that someone you don't want to inherit your assets still could. It's good to remember that wills can be revoked or amended, as long as you still have the mental capacity to do so.

"Life and circumstances change constantly so it's worth reviewing your will every now and then to make sure that it still reflects your wishes," says Claire.

Having a lasting power of attorney in place is like taking out an insurance policy – if, in the future, you should find yourself incapable of making important decisions,Having a lasting power of attorney in place is like taking out an insurance policy – if, in the future, you should find yourself incapable of making important decisions,

Why make a lasting power of attorney?

"There are many instances where life can change unexpectedly and having a will and Lasting Power of Attorney in place can really help families to cope," adds Claire. As an adult, you're never too young to have your will written or to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) document drawn up. Having an LPA in place is like taking out an insurance policy - if, in the future, you should find yourself incapable of making important decisions, like needing to sell your home to pay for care home fees, then a trusted individual is able to do this for you. In some instances, people never need to use these documents, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

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Drawing up funeral plans in my will is too morbid

Sure, your funeral wishes aren't exactly dinner party material, but it can be a weight off people's minds to know that their wishes will be respected after they're gone. Many underestimate the benefit of including some instructions for funeral plans in their will. You may not care much about the tune you march out to, but passing on some ideas to an executor can provide much-needed relief for those left behind.

"We have a very informal chat over a cup of tea to allow people to express their wishes; we know what questions to ask and make sure that everything is documented for when the time comes," says Claire.

Why you really need to have a will

Without a will, you'll have no control over the distribution of your assets and the assumptions you may have made - that have prevented you from writing a will in the first place - can often be incorrect.

Cozens-Hardy solicitors, based in Norwich city centre, provide clear advice and can answer any questions you may have. Their expert wills, probate and trusts team is available five days a week to help you arrange your affairs so you can sleep soundly knowing things will be as straight forward as possible for your family in the future.

To make an enquiry email privateclient@cozens-hardy.com or call 01603 724636.

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