If you care about what happens to your property after you die, you should make a will. Without making a will, the State directs who inherits, so your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing.

Top Tip

Once the will has been drawn up it is not effective until it has been signed. There are several rules affecting the signature process which, if not followed correctly, will make your will invalid. For example, witnesses and their husbands, wives or civil partners cannot benefit under the will.

 

Key Fact

You must name the people you want to appoint as 'executors' of your will - the people who carry out the administration of your will after your death. These could be friends or family members, or a professional such as your solicitor. 


Making a Will

Your inheritance, your will, your right. It is particularly important to make a will if you are not married or are not in a registered civil partnership (a legal arrangement that gives same-sex partners the same status as a married couple). This is because the law does not automatically recognise cohabitants (partners who live together) as having the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners. As a result, even if you've lived together for many years, your cohabitant may be left with nothing if you have not made a will.

A will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you die.

Who do you want to leave you assets to? Are there any conditions you want to attach to these gifts ? How do you want to divide your property between your loved ones, friends or charities? Do you want to leave money to charity?

You should also consider taking legal advice about making a will if:

Once you have had a will drawn up, some changes to your circumstances - for example, marriage, civil partnership, separation, divorce or if your civil partnership is dissolved (legally ended) - can make all or part of that will invalid or inadequate. This means that you must review your will regularly, to reflect any major life changes. A solicitor can tell you what changes may be necessary to update your will.