Unsurprisingly, writing your Will is not the most popular activity on the planet. In the UK alone, recent research suggests that as many as three in five adults don’t have a Will – with a whopping 68% of 35-55 year olds falling into that category (the figure falls to 36% for the over 55s). Many people put it off – so if you haven’t done yours yet, you’re not alone. But it is important. Here is a list of the most popular reasons for procrastinating about writing a Will – and also why you should get on and do it!
- I don’t have anything to leave
For the vast majority of people this simply isn’t true – most of us have possessions! You might have a car; you might have savings; or life insurance or a pension through your work. If you own your own home there will probably be equity in it through rising house prices even if it is mortgaged. At the very least, a Will gives you the opportunity to decide where your stuff goes, who inherits your assets and you can specify your wishes for any funeral arrangements when you die.Most importantly, if you have children then you need to decide who you want to be their guardian when you’re no longer around to look after them (see point 6 below).
- It’s too expensive
Many people have a vague idea that preparing a Will is going to be expensive. It’s not something that gets budgeted for in a normal month. Solicitors are often seen to be pricey. Maybe you’ll do it next year when you’ve had a pay rise…But it doesn’t have to be expensive. As a consultant solicitor I am able to keep my drafting prices very reasonable compared to those on the high street as I have lower overheads. I also offer a free 30 minute consultation to review your existing Will or discuss what you need to consider for drafting a new one.Even if you don’t instruct me to prepare your Will, I would still urge you to bite the bullet and get it done. If you have a simple estate you can always go down the route of a Will-drafting kit (which start at as little as £10-£20), and provided you follow the instructions carefully, can be done simply and effectively.
- It’s tempting fate… or It’s too depressing
Ok, so it can be depressing thinking about dying. But it’s better to have a plan in place. For the sake of your family get it done. Losing a close family member is devastating enough, without the added stress of no Will, no funeral plans, no life insurance to pay the mortgage… it will be much easier for your family if all this in place and things can proceed smoothly. As for tempting fate, when your time is up, it’s up. Having a Will or not is not going to change that.The act of preparing the Will needn’t be depressing in itself. A lot of my clients will tell you that we often end up giggling in our appointments. I try to keep it light hearted – I know it’s a difficult topic.
- It just isn’t a priority now
Unlike a mortgage or a wedding, there isn’t really a life event that really gives us an immediate push to prepare our Will. Some people think about it when they have children, but it often gets overlooked in the haze of the newborn days when you have a lot on your mind or plate! Unless something serious happens, like ill health or an operation, we tend to think that we can put off Will-making to another day.One day, it will be too late, so best to get it done now!
- My husband/wife will get everything anyway
Yes… if you are married with no children. However, if you do have children, your spouse will only automatically inherit the first £250,000 of your estate (plus interest), and your personal belongings. Anything over that sum is divided into two equal shares – one half to your spouse and the other to be held in trust for your children until they reach the age of 18 (or 16 and married, randomly!).If you aren’t married then your partner has no automatic right to any of your assets and they will pass under intestacy rules to your children, parents and siblings if you do not have a Will. There is no such thing as a ‘common law’ spouse in our legal system.So don’t assume your partner will get everything. If you book in for a free 30 minute consultation I can tell you what would happen to your estate if you died and help you work out if you need a Will or not.
- I can’t decide who to appoint as guardians
I do hear this one a lot and I agree that it can be a really difficult decision to make. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is probably the number one reason that parents of young children put off making a Will – they simply can’t decide who would look after their children if they died.The advice I always give in this scenario is to make a decision based on who you would have looking after your children today. You can always update your Will if circumstances change… but it is better to have someone appointed and it not be quite right, than nobody appointed and having the State decide who should look after your children. In a worst-case scenario, the children could be placed into temporary care until a proper assessment and decision can be made. In my mind, appointing guardians is the single most important reason for parents to write a Will. Losing your parents is hard enough without worrying about where you will be living and with whom.
- It’s complicated
It’s actually much less complicated than you might think. In fact, many of my clients exclaim ‘Is that it?’ at the end of our signing appointment as they expected it to have been much more complex. In practice, you can rest easier knowing that it is done. I try to make matters as straightforward as possible – offering home visits and evening or weekend appointments so your Will can be drafted, safely stored and ticked off the to-do list in a simple, painless way.
If any of these resonate with you, then it is time to stop making excuses and get your Will prepared! Come and have a chat to iron out any concerns or uncertainties you might have, and enjoy the peace of mind in knowing that the future of your children and assets are taken care of.