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I think it’s fair to say it is a truth universally acknowledged that our society does not cope with the idea of death. I think it is the fear of it and the fear of the unknown which makes us bury it away deep into our subconscious – but it is also perhaps one of the most important things we have to think about too.
According to recent statistics from Royal London, around 60% of parents still do not have a valid will – and around 5.4 million people have no idea about how to go about getting one. It means these people will die “intestate” – where you pass without leaving a will. It means that your estate is then passed to relatives and next of kin, regardless of whether or not you want it to do so.
There are many reasons why you should write a will. As well as saving your family from heartache, it can provide a legal guardian for your children, as well as protect any money for them. It can also give any unmarried partners rights to your possessions or property – something which may be entailed away if dying intestate.
Your will should always consider any property you have as well as any assets or belongings that could be worth something, including any digital assets and how these are accessed when you die. A will can also outline what will happen to any debts you may have as well as any beneficiaries – i.e. anyone that you would like to benefit from your estate. You can also leave money in trust for young children, until they turn 18.
If you already have a will, it is important to update it regularly, and make sure any changes are reflected. If you get married, or remarry, and/or have any children, your will should be changed as it will automatically become invalidated.
Due to the complicated nature of will writing, plus there may also be tax issues that you will want to protect your family from, it is always a good idea to instruct a solicitor. We wrote a blog recently warning against the dangers of DIY wills – it is worth keeping this in mind if this is the route you choose to take.
We know that death isn’t something many people like to talk about, but our Private Client team at Downs Solicitors offer a professional, trusted expert service. We’ve worked with hundreds of families across the decades to make sure their wishes are carefully documented. Get in touch if you would like to know more.