Over a third of us will die without having made a will1, partly because we believe only rich people need to make one, according to independent website www.moneybasics.co.uk. However, whether a family is rich or poor, without a will to guide them, many find themselves facing a legacy of worries and disputes.
Keith Tondeur, chairman of the www.moneybasics.co.uk advisory panel says, "In everyday life, people know exactly how they want to spend their money but are reticent about deciding who gets what after their death. Without a will, inevitably, the people you really want to inherit your possessions may receive nothing, causing a great deal of needless anxiety and emotional upset. It's not just about money: most people have personal possessions which are of great sentimental value and can be given in a will."
To encourage everyone, including those on low incomes to make a will www.moneybasics.co.uk, a partnership between GE Money, Credit Action and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, has developed a guide that explains why we should all make a will and how to do it cheaply and easily.
www.moneybasics.co.uk guide to making a will:
- Stay in control: The best reason to make a will is that you decide who gets what from your assets. Without a will, the Rules of Intestacy apply. This means that your possessions will go to the people who the Government think are most appropriate to receive them. These people may not be those who you would choose. To find out more about intestacy go to HM Revenue and Customs www.hmrc.gov.uk.
- Comfort factor: not only do wills offer great peace of mind to all involved but gifts can bring emotional comfort to loved ones and ease their financial pressures following a bereavement. Regarding a will as 'gift-giving' is much more motivating than thinking about your own mortality!
- Make a deadline: National Will Week starts on 24th October and is the perfect opportunity to get started
- Don't put it off: Everyone knows that life is uncertain and sadly accidents happen. It's not just older people who need a will and having one can make life a lot easier for your loved ones.
Be your own solicitor: a will is legal whether you do it yourself or get a solicitor to do it for you. The main difference is the cost.
Do-it-yourself will packs are cheap, easy to use and you can take your time filling them out in the comfort of your own home. You can buy them from high street shops like W H Smith or over the Internet. They are also easy to update if your circumstances change.
Alternatively, a solicitor will normally charge up to £100 to draw up a will. Some charities will also help you make a will for a much lower charge such as Age Concern.
Be thorough: consider carefully all the people you'd like to remember in your will. Don't forget to include items of sentimental value as well as money and expensive items.
Keep the family together: Ask a trustworthy, impartial friend or family member to act as your executor. This will help both with will-making and carrying out your instructions.
Don't lose it: Put your will in a safe place and make sure you leave a note in your files to say where it is! This will save your family from hours of searching for your will after you have passed away.
1 Source: The Law Society