Why it’s important to make a will

Making a will is one of those tasks that people tend put off the most and it’s one of the main reasons why every year millions of pounds worth of assets left by loved ones end up not being passed on.

None of us like to talk about death and I can understand why, but failing to make a will can leave those left behind with significant problems and stress at what is already a tough time.

Also having spent a lifetime working hard to accrue wealth and maybe property, surely you want to have a say in who receives what when you die?

A will can ensure that assets remain within the family and are passed on down the generations. Some people are concerned that new spouses may inherit their assets in the future but a well-structured will can stop this happening.

Around two thirds of UK adults do not have a will and could be at risk of losing control over their estate if they die, according to a joint study released this week by The Co-operative Funeralcare and The Co-operative Legal Services.

Previous reports have estimated that around a third of people who have lost a family member in the past ten years have struggled to locate their financial assets.

That’s a big part of why in the UK there is currently more than £600 million sitting in unclaimed bank accounts, £44 million in unclaimed premium bonds and more than £3 billion in stocks and shares.

The problem is if people don’t know what savings, investments, life insurance and treasured possessions you own, they have little chance of tracking them down.

You could turn to a Solicitor to help with your search, but it’s easy to run up a bill of £2,000 plus for this service and even more if it’s not a straightforward case.

Don’t leave it too late

The Co-operative findings also reveal that of those who made a will, the average age they first wrote their will was 42 whereas 1 in 4 left it until after the age of 55.

The most common trigger that prompts people to think about a will is reaching a milestone age, maybe the big 40, 50 or even older.

Other cited reasons that spur people on to make a will are having a child, the death of relative and purchasing of a property..

Despite the fact that life events such as marriage, divorce and the death of a spouse can significantly impact the effectiveness of a will, many people have never updated their wishes with a third of people admitting they simply just haven’t got round to it

Making a will – top tips

The first step is to make an appointment with a local solicitor to make your will (and remember keep it updated every few years).

Secondly, don’t forget to tell your family that you’ve made a will and where it’s located.

As well as the will itself, write down list of your assets and keep it with your will, that way the wealth that you’ve worked so hard for all your life can be located without too much effort and will be passed on to the people that you want to receive it.

It’s a concern that over half of people who have wills have never updated them so it’s wise to have a quick read through your will every couple of years to ensure it still meets your wishes.

If you haven’t already made a will, now’s an ideal time to get something sorted.

During November as part of ‘Will Aid’ you can get a will prepared by participating solicitors in return for a donation to charity – you can find who is offering the service in your area, by entering your post code on www.willaid.org.uk

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