You don’t have to make a will but doing so will help to make sure that your savings and personal belongings go to the people you want to have them when you die. People who die without making a will could find their estate going to family they didn’t ever intend to benefit.
By making a will, you’re not only helping to make sure that the people you want to benefit when you die are provided for, but you’ll also help speed up the process of dealing with your estate. A will is the most effective way to ensure your assets end up where you feel they are best deserved – whether this means family and close friends or trusts and organisations that you wish to support[N1]. On the other hand, a will can also be useful to prevent your estate being divided up according to intestacy rules. These rules follow a pre-determined formula to divide up your estate, so the people who eventually get your assets may not be the same people you would have wished to have them.
Making a will does not have to be a time-consuming process, but it’s always advisable to consult with a solicitor or other legal specialist to ensure the details are precisely as you want them. Depending where you go to draft your will, you could find a number of pre-drafted templates available that could make drafting yours a bit quicker.
Even if you’ve been responsible and have already drafted a will, you should make sure you consider your changing circumstances over the years, which could mean your original will requires updating. If you’ve had children in the meantime, you should make a will so you can name the people you would want to look after your children if you die. Or you may wish to change your will because you’ve become close to someone not named in your original will – or estranged from someone who was. It’s also important to remember if you marry, or divorce then your will is automatically invalid, and you’ll have to make a new one. Re-drafting a will doesn’t have to be expensive, and can ensure that the final division of your finances is done according to your most recent wishes[N2].
Wills are not the only step you can take towards protecting your family’s finances after your death, however. You could also take out life insurance to provide a lump sum payment that could be extremely useful for helping to pay off a loan or mortgage, or to provide money to help ease financial worries for your family.
The amount of cover provided by your life insurance policy will depend on factors such as your health, sex and age, and in the future if you feel the cover is not enough, you can usually take out additional polices for just a little extra each month. Upon your death, your insurer will usually make a payment to your estate, unless you have arranged for it to be paid to someone else, or placed it in trust.