Your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die – these things together are called your “estate”. If you don’t leave a will, the law of ‘intestacy’ decides how your estate is passed on – and this may not be how you wanted it.
Reasons you need a will.
- A will makes it easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will the process can be far more time consuming and stressful.
- If you don’t have a will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law – which isn’t always the way you may want.
- A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave in your estate.
- Making a will is particularly important if you have children or other family members who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your family.
Your will also appoints who will administer your estate and carry out your wishes after you die. This person is called an “Executor” and you can have more than one.
You can also use your will to tell people about any other wishes you have, like instructions for your funeral service, burial or cremation.
Your executor will then do their best to make sure your wishes are followed.
Your will doesn’t have to be on special paper or use a lot of legal language.
A document is a valid will as long as it:
- Says how your estate should be shared out when you die.
- Was made when you were able to make your own decisions and you weren’t put under pressure about who to leave things too.
- Is signed and dated by you in the presence of two adult, independent witnesses, and then signed by the two witnesses in your presence – the witnesses can’t be people who are going to inherit anything from you (or their husband/wife or civil partner).