57% Of UK Adults Don’t Have A Will, Report Reveals
No matter what stage of life you’re at, having a will in place is always a good idea so you know that whatever assets you do have will go to those you want them to. But it seems that not everyone in the UK takes this responsibility as seriously as they perhaps should.
New research from Royal London has just revealed that 57 per cent of adults don’t currently have a will, with the study – released for Will Aid Month in November – also coming across some of the most common misconceptions that people have about wills.
Some 39 per cent believe incorrectly that if they die without a will, their children will automatically go to members of their immediate family. In fact, the legal responsibility for dependents under the age of 18 would fall to the courts, until a decision can be made about who will take on guardianship.
It’s also often believed that if you live with someone but aren’t married, they would inherit your assets if you die. Children would be able to have a claim on the assets but if there are no kids, these assets would then go to your siblings and parents.
Interestingly, 87 per cent of people don’t know that if their will has been written in England it may not actually be valid in Scotland – so if you are planning to relocate north of the border, you may wish to seek professional advice from our specialist will solicitors just so you have all the information you need to ensure your will is still a valid legal document.
Consumer spokeswoman with Royal London, Mona Patel commented: “Not having a will in place can lead to all sorts of complications, many of which the general public are not aware of. But even with a will in place, there are misconceptions around what happens to your assets when you die. It’s important to not only write a will, but also to make sure it reflects your wishes and to keep it up to date if your circumstances change.”
Why you should use a solicitor to make a will
You don’t have to have your will drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor and if you want to do it yourself, you can.
But you should only go down this route if you know that the document is going to be a straightforward one and it’s generally advised to seek out legal advice or at the very least have a solicitor check the will over once it’s written so you know it’s going to have the effect you’re looking for.
If there are mistakes contained within your will, this can lead to problems after you’ve passed away and resolving these issues could prove incredibly costly in terms of legal fees, which will reduce the overall value of your estate.
Common mistakes that people often make when it comes to drafting their own wills include not being aware of the formal requirements necessary to make the documents legal, not accounting for the fact that a beneficiary could die before the person making the will and being unaware of how registered civil partnerships, marriages, divorce or dissolution of civil partnerships could impact the will in question.
In some instances, it is particularly advisable to get in touch with will solicitors, as legal complications may arise otherwise. These include if you share a house with someone who isn’t a civil partner, wife or husband, if you permanently live outside the UK, if there’s a business involved and if there are numerous members of your family who could make a claim on the will.
What should you include in your will?
Before you go and see your professional and experienced will specialist, sit down and think about what you would like to see included in the will, considering aspects like how much money you have, as well as any possessions and property like savings, insurance policies and so on.
Also think about who you would like to benefit from your will, listing all those who you intend to leave possessions or money. These are known as your beneficiaries, although you might also like to consider whether you wish to leave any money to charity as well.
Another key point to bear in mind is who you would want to look after any children you have who are under the age of 18. You should also think about who you would like to serve as the executor of your will, someone who will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Relatives and friends are typically appointed as executors, but you can also consider your bank, solicitors or accountants.
How to ensure that your will is valid
In order for your will be legal and valid, it must have been written up by someone over the age of 18, made voluntarily and not under pressure from someone else. It must also have been drafted by someone of sound mind, in writing and signed by the person making it in the presence of two witnesses.
These witnesses have to sign the document in the presence of the person making the will, after it has been signed by themselves.
A key point to remember is that your witnesses cannot benefit from the will being written. The will will still be valid if one of your witnesses is a beneficiary, but they will not be able to inherit under the document. It is also wise to date your will on the day it has been signed, although it will still be legally valid without this.
For further help or advice, get in touch with our will solicitors in Buckinghamshire today on 01494 773377 or email [email protected]
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