Most people agree that writing a Will is a good idea, but very few actually get round to doing it. Thinking about dying can be a long way down a list of favourite pastimes, and people often say that they are too busy living to think about dying! But, dying without a will (called dying intestate) can cause unnecessary hardship for your survivors, as delays are often incurred as someone tries to find out if you had a Will, and then goes through the hassle of sorting out who is going to inherit what. Your next of kin will usually be appointed to sort out your estate, and he or she might not be the best person to do the job.
When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy and, then, only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So, if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. Cohabiting partners (sometimes wrongly called 'common-law' partners) who were neither married nor in a civil partnership can't inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Writing a Will leaves your affairs clear for family, friends and other beneficiaries. This can save arguments and be a comfort to those left coming to terms with your death. You can appoint the people you choose to look after your affairs (called Executors), and ensure that money, property and other gifts go to the people you want to inherit. A Will also appoints guardians for your children if they are below aged 18. By focusing on your estate, you may also be able to save on Inheritance Tax, as it is an ideal time to look at ways of distributing your assets before you die. Quite what is possible, can only be determined by carrying out a thorough review of your situation, which is where we come in.