We quizzed Elliot Chambers, of Goughs Solicitors, about the hows and whys of wills…

Elliot Chambers

I’m young, happy and healthy. Why should I concern myself with making a Will now rather than when I retire?
The short answer to this question is that we cannot tell the future. A Will comes into effect after we have passed away and, unfortunately, not all of us will live a long life through to retirement. It is important to have a Will in place to make sure that you are prepared and that your wishes shall be carried out after you pass away, regardless of when that might be.

I don’t own a house or have lots of money in the bank. Why should I go to the expense of making a Will?
Whilst a Will will deal with any property and money that you have when you pass away, your Will can also record your wishes and deal with a number of other issues that might be of concern to you. For example, in your Will you could appoint guardians for any minor children you may leave. These are the people who would be responsible for caring for your children if you were to pass away whilst they were still minors.

Other than family, what else can I do with money and possessions should the worst happen?
In the UK, we are free to leave our estate to whomever we like. If you wished to leave a set amount or a share of your estate to friends or charities you are able to do so. You are also able to gift specific personal possessions to whomever you pleased. That being said, there are rules that would allow certain classes of people to challenge your Will if they have not been reasonably provided for.

I’m confused about how to divide my estate. Can a solicitor assist with this?
How you choose to divide your estate is a personal decision that must be made by you. Whilst a solicitor is unable to tell you how you should divide your estate they are able to provide you with practical advice to assist you in making your decision.

How often should I review my Will?
There is no set rule as to how often a Will should be reviewed. Whenever there is a change in your circumstances (such as if you were to have a child or to inherit money) it is a good idea to read through your Will to make sure that it is still in accordance with your wishes. You should also review your Will if one of your executors or beneficiaries were to fall ill or pass away or if you have simply changed your mind about how you would like your estate to be divided.

What happens if I die without a Will?
If you die without leaving a Will, your estate will pass in accordance with the intestacy rules. These are a set of rules that identify the order in which classes of your relatives will inherit your estate. These rules can often lead to your estate passing to people you would not ordinarily wish to benefit and it is not advisable to rely on these rules to divide your estate how you would like.  

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