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None of us likes to think about making a Will, let alone the time when it’s actually needed.

But by taking a few hours to plan things now, you could make an already difficult time for your loved ones much less stressful.

Making a Will means that your requests are carried out the way you want them to, rather than leaving it all to be decided by someone else.

By writing a Will you can:

  • Leave family heirlooms and gifts to the people you want them to go to, ensuring treasured possessions are given to those who will cherish them
  • Appoint guardians to look after your children if they are under 18 and make financial arrangements for their benefit, whatever their age
  • Make financial arrangements for their benefit, whatever their age
  • Ensure any children from your first marriage get a share of your estate if you have remarried
  • Incorporate trusts to protect the inheritance of your loved ones
  • Protect your estate from Inheritance Tax with careful planning
  • Protect your estate from those you do not wish to inherit, estranged relatives, for example
  • Provisions for your pets can be made
  • You can leave a legacy to a favourite charity or organisation, either monetary or a specific gift such as an item of jewellery.
  • Detail your funeral wishes, including whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated

So, what happens if you die without making a Will?

In legal terms, you will die ‘intestate’ which means your property and belongings may not go to the people you wanted them to. In this case, there are special rules called the Laws of Intestacy that determine how your estate will be distributed.

These rules are the same for everyone. This means the people you actually wanted to leave an inheritance to might not be considered. Similarly, estranged relatives could inherit from your estate.

The Laws of Intestacy state (amongst other things) that:

  • Your partner could be forced to sell the family home in order to divide up the estate
  • If you and your partner are unmarried, they will inherit nothing from your estate
  • If you’re separated from your spouse but not yet divorced, he or she will inherit your estate as they would have done prior to your separation

Updating your Will

At Bower, we suggest reviewing your Will every five years, or whenever there are any major changes in your life, such as:

  • Marriage: Usually, when you marry, your Will is automatically revoked (in England and Wales, but not in Scotland)
  • Divorce: When a divorce takes place, however, it does not automatically revoke a Will. If you want to ensure that your ex does not inherit then you should update your Will
  • The addition of a new beneficiary: New additions to your family may mean you wish to change who receives certain items, or re-think how your estate will be divided between your beneficiaries
  • Death: If someone named in your Will has passed away
  • Finally, if you’ve produced your Will yourself then there are a number of reasons it may not be valid, so get it checked by a professional

If your existing Will is out of date and/or requires a number of changes, then starting afresh with a new one might well be less complicated. It could also reduce the likelihood of people contesting your Will when the time comes for it to be executed.

How to have your Will written

Making a professionally written Will is the most reliable, legally binding way you can provide for others when you are no longer here to do it yourself.

At Bower, our helpful and professional experts can take care of the whole process for you. Our legal partners are specialists in Will writing and will liaise with you over the telephone to expertly prepare your documents just the way you want them.