The Importance of Having a Will

When my children were very small I use to worry about what would happen to them if I died. Who would help my husband bring them up. Would he do a good job? What about all those decisions we were going to make together about schooling, bedtimes, extra curricular clubs like Rugby, Scouts and so on. Who would be the gentle one, the tough one and so on.  I worried about dying while they were little. I didn’t like leaving them behind if we were travelling anywhere – just in case!

We decided that we ought to sit down and thrash it all out. We had disagreements as to who we wanted to bring up our children if we both died. It took us a while to sort it out. But actually getting the will written? didn’t take long at all!

Did you know that if you are not marrried or in a civil partnership then the surviving partner has no automatic right to inherit? (if you live in England or Wales).

If the value of the estate is more than £250,000 and you are  married or a civil partner then the spouse or civil partner keeps all the assets (including property) up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value.  The remainder of the estate is shared as follows:

  • the husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder
  • the other half is then divided equally between the surviving children

If a son or daughter (or other child where the deceased had a parental role) has already died, their children will inherit in their place.

So what happens to the children if you haven’t made a will? Social Services and the Care system? A journey through the courts for Residency Orders for people who are already grieving? An argument between two sets of families as to who has the children?

This can be avoided by writing your will. Ask your family who would be willing to have the children in the event of your death. If you don’t want immediate family, then how about close family? or friends? Who has similar values and outlooks to yourself(ves)?

We were adamant that we didn’t want our siblings to have our children (for too many reasons to go into here, but mainly because they had young families of their own) and my parents were both dead as was my husband’s father. So we settled on cousins of mine with whom I have a very close relationship on the proviso that my husband’s mother was to be consulted on all aspects of their care and was to be enabled to maintain contact.

Both my boys are now in their twenties and on a recent visit to my cousin’s house we laughed about how they would  still be responsible in the event of our death! Reminder to self – update our wills!

Making a will is one of those things we put off, we don’t want to think about the fact that we might die. When we have children we have a responsibility for their care.  Your will and that of your partner can make it so much easier for those left behind. It can detail how and what you want your funeral to be as well.

There are many articles on the web, and the Government website has more information https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance

I have been reminded that it is no good making a will, if you do not tell people you have done so, or where it is kept! Both my sons know where ours is, and they know our intentions. Copies can be kept in home files, and also with your bank, your solicitor, or even your next of kin. I have also done some research on the facts and figures! Information courtesy of http://www.willaid.org.uk/ and current in 2014.

  • 55% of those who are married or in a civil partnership a have written a Will
  • There has been a big increase in the percentage of separated people with a Will – up to 48.00% this year from 41.30% in 2013, and from only 25.50% in 2012
  • Almost 70% of cohabiting couples (married or in a civil partnership) have no Will. This means that on death, the surviving partner would have no automatic right to inherit.
  • 56% parents have no Will at all and a further 23%, whilst they do have a Will, have not named guardians. This means that 79% of parents with dependent children have not named guardians for them

Of the 50 million adults living in the UK, 26 million (52%) do not have a Will.

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4 Responses to The Importance of Having a Will

  1. As well as writing a Will, it’s also very important to make sure you have copies and keep them somewhere safe, so that your next of kin don’t have any trouble. Your solicitor should have a copy, you should have a copy, and it’s also worth asking someone you trust to keep a copy. (If you have children that will need Guardians in the event of your death, you can probably ask the intended guardian to keep a copy of the Will).

    Searching for and disputing the content of Wills can be very stressful and costly to those involved, so it’s best to avoid the situation from the outset and make sure that your next of kin will have no problems finding your Will.

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  2. Helen says:

    Great post …
    Have one … it is nearly out of date – plan to change it when no.1 turns 18 … too many people don’t have one … including my aunt!

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  3. Thanks Helen, it is daunting, but has to be done! We will be sorting ours out soon (again!). The figures of those without a will are just frightening.

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