This common misconception means that sometimes people who really should make a Will do not.
If you die without a Will, this is called dying intestate. This means that the Intestacy Rules determine who inherits what, which means your loved ones could miss out and a large chunk of your estate could go to HMRC. In order to avoid this situation and to ensure that your estate passes to people of your choice, it is highly recommended that you have a valid Will.
If you live with a partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, and do not leave a Will, then your assets would often pass automatically to the closest blood relatives – usually children, parents or siblings. Your assets will not be inherited by your partner unless you have clearly expressed this in a Will. If you are intending to leave any assets to children, you may need to make provision in a Will for someone to look after those assets until the children reach a certain age.
Whether you are single, cohabiting, married or divorced, you will need a Will to ensure that your assets will be distributed in accordance with your wishes. It is important to note that marriage cancels out a Will (unless it is clearly stated in the Will that it is made in anticipation of marriage). Also, if you have a valid Will and you have subsequently divorced then the Will is read as if your spouse has died, but the rest of your Will would still be valid. This could mean that the Will does not reflect your wishes or even that some or all of it is no longer effective.
If you have children under 18, you may wish to consider appointing a testamentary guardian. This will ensure that your children are looked after by a person of your choice in the event that you pass away whilst they are a minor. This is one of the hardest decisions parents have when preparing a Will, but it is essential that you discuss this with the testamentary guardian prior to appointing them.
Many of us never get round to making a Will and some people find the process daunting. Not having a Will can cause problems and financial worry for your loved ones. Take the time to write a Will and make provisions to meet the future financial needs of your loved ones.