All in good order
Making a will ensures you have a plan in place for those you love the most
According to research from mutual insurer Royal London (reported in 2018), 54% of the adult population do not have a will. However, Rebecca Harbron Gray – head of wills, trusts and probate at Gordon Brown Law
Firm LLP – says people have a responsibility to their families and beneficiaries, both financially and in terms of guardianship provisions, to make one. ‘It’s really important, no matter what age or point you are at in your life, that a will is made and it’s kept up to date,’ she notes.
According to Rebecca, uncertainty is the biggest consequence of not making a will. She warns: ‘It’s a very difficult time of anyone’s life if a relative dies, and to not have a will, with some element of guidance and some element of structure as to what you then do can give individuals a lot more worry and a lot more grief.’
Fortunately, Rebecca says, making a will need not be long or arduous and that there are lots of different ways one can be created. Dan Garrett, CEO and co-founder of will, probate and cremation service Farewill, agrees with that latter point. He explains you can use a solicitor or will-writer (Rebecca advises checking the insurance of any will-writer you’re considering using, as they can disappear quickly and be harder to find if they close), or a service such as Farewill, which lets people write wills online.
You can also write your will yourself. If it’s properly signed and witnessed by two adult independent witnesses, present when you sign the will, it should be legally binding. However, Dan says in general, Farewill would not recommend this as the risk is that you word something wrong or you forget about a bit of your estate.
Your will should cover who you want to benefit from it, who should care for any children under 18, who will sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor) and what happens if the people you wish to benefit from your will die before you.
Ensure it’s totally clear what should happen to your whole estate – essentially, everything you own. Rebecca says that in the UK, it’s common within a nuclear family for spouses to provide for each other and leave children gifts, though if families are more diverse (say there are step-parents), will content will depend on individual circumstances.
Think about who you have financial responsibility for when making your will. Remember that this might not just be your spouse and/or biological children – if you’re a grandparent or step-parent providing for a child financially (if you’re funding school fees, for example), you might want to leave provision for them. You can also give money to charity.
Farewill is keen for individuals to emotionally engage in the process of making a will and encourages people to leave extensive funeral wishes, as well as to put notes in their will so that if they’re leaving someone an heirloom, for example, they’re explaining why they’re doing so and what it means to them. “For most people, the stuff that matters is more of the emotional side – making sure that they’ve said what they have to say to the people who they love,” Dan says, adding that appointing a guardian for pets is often overlooked.
Death can be a difficult subject to talk about. However, by making a will, you can ensure peace of mind for those closest to you.
ABOVE: Receiving professional guidance is advised