Get your house in order

More than 27 million people in England and Wales do not have a
will, according to the National Consumer Council. Take a few moments to review your will or draw one up today.

1 Why do you need a will?

A will allows you to decide who gets what from your estate and to appoint a person to take responsibility of administering these wishes, known as your executor. If you have assets, you need a will. A house purchase usually prompts people to draw one up because they have acquired equity and possessions. A properly executed will can also ensure your estate doesn’t pay more inheritance tax than necessary.

2 Dying without a will

If you die without a will you are said to have died intestate. The laws of intestacy would apply to your estate, including property, personal possessions and cash, which means your estate would be divided between your lawful spouse and your surviving blood relatives, according to specific rules laid down by Parliament. Cohabiting couples have no rights to each other’s estates by law, so it is important to make a will if you wish to leave anything to your partner rather than your family.

3 Marriage and children

If you get married or enter a civil partnership, you need to review your will because this automatically revokes an existing will. If you have children, you will need to review your will again to detail your wishes for them, such as who would be their guardians and safeguarding money that they would otherwise automatically receive at age 18.

4 Writing your will

You can write a will on your own, but it is advisable to use a solicitor because there are various legal formalities to follow to ensure your will is valid. The cost of drawing it up depends on how complex it is and varies between solicitors, so it’s worth checking prices with a few local solicitors first.

5 Keep it safe

Once you've made your will, keep it in a safe place and tell your executor, a close friend or relative where it is. If a solicitor makes your will, they will normally keep the original and send you a copy.

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