The Importance of making a Will
Updated: Jul 10
Making a will is something that most of us think about doing, but with the hustle and bustle of daily life, rarely get around to it.
You may think there’s no point because you don’t have any assets to hand down. But wills can do so much more. They can detail the sort of funeral you would like, or if you have children under 18, who should bring them up. Of course, you can also state how you would like your belongings distributed too.
If you die without having made a will, your assets (commonly referred to as an “estate”) will be distributed according to the strict rules of intestacy. This may mean the people you care about could lose out.
Making a will is a scary prospect. After all, we are talking about what is going to happen when we are no longer here: who should get your hard-earned assets or look after the children. There’s no sugar coating it, making a will is likely to be one of the most emotionally difficult things you will have to do. But once it is done, you can relax safely knowing that you have given your family peace of mind and less to deal with after you have gone.
At what age should I make a will?
To make a legally valid will, you must be 18 years or older, although there are exceptions for those on active military service.
Many people decide to leave making a will until they are older and have accumulated assets, such as a house and savings. The average age for people in the UK to make a will is 58, but it is not something that we should put on the back burner indefinitely. Although we all wish for a long and healthy life, none of us know what is around the corner, so it is always better to be prepared.
In most cases, making a will is often dictated by events in our lives. Certain life events such as getting married, having children or buying a new or larger home drive us to think more about planning for the future. These are important milestones which make us stop and think about the practicalities of our lives. So rather than thinking about making a will when you reach a particular age, it is better to look towards life stages and events when having an up to date will becomes important, and in most cases, essential.
Naming a children’s guardian
It may come as a surprise, but you can state in your will who should look after your children or dependents if you die and they are under 18. You can also appoint a legal guardian. This may be the other parent, or their grandparents, for example. You may have named friends or other family members to be your children’s godparents, but this is not legally binding, and godparents do not have any legal rights.
For new parents, making a will is probably the last thing on your mind. But it is part of the responsibility you have towards your children.
Parents who die without making a will are likely to leave their family in uncertain circumstances and potential financial jeopardy. It may even result in the family courts becoming involved and choosing someone to look after them you would not agree with.
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