Updated: Nov 11, 2020
"I don't have the time". "I'm too young". "I don't own anything valuable".
More than half of the UK population still do not have a Will. They know they need one but yet still put it off. From believing it is too much effort to not expecting what is around the corner, this article explores the most common reasons for why people still do not have their own Will, and the grave consequences of doing so.
We all hear the phrases “Last Will and Testament” or “Estate Planning” and we immediately switch off.
We associate it with something that our parents or grandparents need to think about as they approach an older age and they need to plan how best they can leave a legacy for the people and causes that mean most to them.
But the truth is that Wills are not just for the old: they are for everyone. Including you.
Whether you are young or old; wealthy or living off each wage packet; married, single or “in a relationship” (this is a biggie as you’ll see later); living in a nuclear family household or just on your own with your three dogs, a Will is an essential for you.
But just like many things in life, despite how important it is, we still put it off.
We are going to explore the reasons why we do this and the reasons why we should not do this.
Around 54% of the UK adult population do not have a Will.
This may not appear to be a surprising amount, even more so, it may not appear to be such a pressing issue.
But your view may change when you see what happens when you do not have a Will.
Without a Will, an individual is said to have died “intestate”.
As such, on death, they lose all control and say over who or what gets their property and belongings.
Instead, their estate is distributed in accordance with a set of rules laid down by law known as the “Intestacy Rules”.
“That’s good”, you may think; “the law has already done the job for me and my family will obviously be the ones to benefit”. Wrong.
The fact of the matter is that, no one ever dies intestate, intending the results of the Intestacy Rules.
The following flowchart summarises the way the Intestacy Rules work:
You may note a few things. Firstly, there is no recognition or provision whatsoever for an unmarried cohabiting couple.
Many couples nowadays choose to live together. Maybe for years. They settle down, have kids and own a property where they live happily ever after. Until one of them eventually and unfortunately passes.
They live in the mistaken belief that they will be automatically looked after because everything will pass to them as the “common law husband” or “common law wife”.
No such concept exists in law.
If you’re unmarried and don’t have a Will, you are not protected on either one’s death.
Now, with that in mind, let’s see why you may still not have a Will and why you need to write one now, or update, before it is too late.
It’s a dark topic
Let’s be honest. Talking about planning for your loved ones when you are not here is not a particularly pleasant topic.
But it’s unavoidable.
There are no certainties in this life apart from the fact that, one day, it will end.
Taking that short time now to prepare for this eventuality can save your family and friends huge amounts of stress and distress and provide them, as well as yourself, with the reassurance and confidence that they will be looked after when you are no longer able to.
It’s too much effort
What should I consider? What do I write? How do I sign it?
Many people are put off from writing a Will because they do not know where to start.
In fact, 5.4 million adults in the UK did not know where to begin when it comes to writing a Will.
The truth is that you can write your own Will with your own two hands.
However, as a legal document with legal validity and effects, it is always best to get legal advice to ensure it’s done correctly.
It costs too much
I know what you’re now thinking, “lawyers need to be involved? I don’t have money for that.”
But the truth is that you do not need to break the bank to get legal advice.
There are many institutions and organisations offering free legal advice and some solicitor firms providing advice at inflated prices.
We take the middle ground.
We go above and beyond to make sure you understand the document.
We are not like other Will writers or firms where their main aim is to just have your Will written and signed before invoicing you. No.
Our main objective is teaching so you understand what is going on and what will happen to your property.
How do we do this?
Our Advice service is essentially an interactive 1-on-1 seminar to teach you what you need to know to write your Will.
Alternatively, when you ask us to write your Will, we ask to gather as much information as possible before drafting your Will for you.
Once the Will is drafted, we will provide an explanatory email summarising all the clauses in your Will and the effects of each, in plain English.
We. Speak. English.
We don’t speak ‘legalese’ and we don’t use complicated legal jargon. Some may believe that the more technical and complicated something sounds, the more effective it is. We don’t.
Clear. Concise. Correct.
We use plain English to write our Wills and speak in plain English. Our most important principle is that you understand what has gone into your Will and you are happy with it.
I don’t have that much money. What is the point of a Will for me?
You do not need to be an aristocrat to need a Will.
We all own something.
Cash or money of any value; an item of property which is valuable, whether it be in terms of money or sentimentality; an heirloom; a pet.
Let’s not forget, you have worked hard and put your time into accumulating your wealth, whatever value it may be, so wouldn’t you want to be the one to decide where it goes and who to benefit?
Equally, whether it be a fancy watch, vintage car, or even a quirky ornament, wouldn’t you want to let this pass to someone who would cherish this and think of you every time they go for a Sunday drive or put on the watch to a special family event in the future? You’ll always be there, part of new memories.
And what about your pet? The law recognises that a pet, unless used for business purposes (such as a sheepdog or farm animal) is personal property and as such, should be considered in your Will.
Do you have someone in mind to look after them? An animal welfare charity? A trust for their care?
Equally, we may not be wealthy, but we have our own passions and desires.
Is there a particular charity which has supported you through tough times? Or maybe a hospice that looked after your relative?
A gift of any amount to a cause close to your heart is worth more than you can imagine.
I am too young to be even thinking about Wills
I used to believe in this notion too until earlier this year.
I was asked by a young man to draft his Will. It was an emergency Will.
I said, of course, and enquired as to the reason for its urgency.
He explained that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was having an operation in the coming week. There was a chance he may not make it.
He was in his in 20s.
He spoke to me about his wife and family and how he needed to provide for them differently.
You may be young and not have a family to support but the takeaway is that we do not know what lies ahead of us.
Illnesses like cancer can strike any one of any type at any time. In the times it does, the last thing you want to have to do is panic about getting your estate and assets in order for your family.
Even if you don’t have money or property as us youngsters rarely do, it’s the little extra things we don’t think about.
For instance, our body.
We often tell our family about how we would “rather be cremated than buried” or vice versa.
But the truth is that it is our executor (i.e. the person we nominate in our Will to carry out the instructions therein) who prima facie has the duty to dispose of our body.
If we don’t have a Will, we don’t have an executor of our choice to carry out our wishes.
This may not bother you so much, but it may be important to your parents and loved ones who will want a say, at least.
You should hopefully see that Wills are important and they are for everyone.
Our lives are currently subject to everchanging rules and updates on coronavirus lockdown restrictions and new Covid-19 measures.
This is proof that we have no idea what the world will come to next and what lies ahead of us – our lives can be changed by the simplest touch of a hand or rubbing of our eye.
Be proactive. Think ahead.
A.D.E Wills offer services via virtual meetings (whether it be Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom or Google Meet).
With more time at home and a pandemic in full effect, now would seemingly be the perfect time to get your affairs in order and plan for the future.
We pride ourselves on keeping the process simple, understandable and effective.
Wills do not need to be long and complicated, and neither does the process for writing them need to be so.
It should not cost you all your money to make plans involving your money. We keep our prices highly competitive and reasonable.
Book in an appointment, or call Edward Richings on 07368 526296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation chat and download our free Will Information Guide for more guidance on making a Will.