A good portion of people across England have not made a Will. This is fine if you have nothing left to leave. But if you have an inheritance or own property, not making a Will means you will die intestate. This means that others will decide where your money goes. And although in most cases it will go to much-loved relatives, it can be contested by those who you may not be keen on.
Or even worse, the money could go to the Crown, which means your inheritance goes to painting Buckingham Palace or funding weapons or animal experiments. Amy Winehouse died intestate. Although a millionairess, the legal wranglings meant the lawyers cleaned up, leaving her family hardly anything. The same happened to Bob Marley.
A Simple Will is a questionnaire. Just answer the questions then receive your Will, which must be signed by two Witnesses and stored safely (along with any Codicil, which are special wishes). Don’t buy those Wills from WH Smith, they are not worth the paper they are written on. This is because a Will has to pass Probate, which means it must be legally valid, in case someone contests it.
You can write Mirror Wills if you are a couple. But remember that if anything changes (divorce, widowhood etc), the Will becomes invalid. So you must write another one.
Making a Will should be pretty simple, but of course it’s big business. If you have a complicated estate or a lot of money, then it pays to visit a local solicitor to draw up a Will. But if spending hundreds of pounds is out of your budget, what do you do?
- The big charities offer free Will-writing services, but often the charities themselves are not very ethical. If you want to leave money to charity, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) does good work and offers a free Will-writing service.
- Farewill offers good online Wills that are simple, affordable and legal. There are a few other companies online, but really do your homework, to ensure that the company you choose is trustworthy.
- You can’t leave money to pets, but you can leave money to care for them. April King has a great post on how to care for pets, after you die. If you don’t have next-of-kin, you can order a free card from Dog’s Trust Canine Care and they will try to find loving homes after you die.