Why Do I Need a Will?

November 1, 2023

Here at GreenSky Wealth, we work closely with a team of other professionals to make sure our clients have the very best of help available for important life decisions that sit outside our area of expertise. Ann-Marie Matthews, Legal Advisor at The Beyond Group East Anglia Limited, is one such person. Ann-Marie has been kind enough to agree to share some of her pearls of wisdom with you, dear reader, via our blog. Here’s an important one on Wills.

It’s a pretty worrying truth that Wills are under-appreciated and very often overlooked. In fact, currently around half of the British public do not have one.

A few of the common phrases we hear when it comes to discussing why someone doesn’t have a Will yet:

  • “I don’t need a Will”
  • “I’ll get around to it at some point”
  • “I don’t have any assets to give away”
  • “I don’t want to talk about death”
  • “My family know what I want”
  • “It’s a scary subject”

We know that speaking to a solicitor can be a scary prospect. Even more so when the discussion revolves around what will happen when you die. However, creating a Will is a step along the bumpy road to peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Having A Will

A Will is a legally binding way of dealing with your affairs after your death. There are some very important reasons to have a Will:

  1. If you do not have a Will, everything you own will be shared out in a way which is decided by the law, not by you or your family
  2. A Will certainly make matters easier for your loved ones when you die due to the certainty and understanding that comes with it
  3. A well drafted Will can help with inheritance tax planning
  4. A Will lets you choose people that you know and trust to deal with your affairs after your death.

In order to truly appreciate the importance of having a Will, you first need to understand what happens if you die without a Will.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will: The Intestacy Rules

If you die without a valid Will, your estate passes via a special set of rules called the Intestacy Rules. Under these rules, matters are out of your hands, and that of your nearest and dearest. Only certain people can inherit your estate when you die. The rules apply in order of closeness. In England and Wales, this is:

  1. Spouse or civil partner
  2. Children/grandchildren (including adopted)
  3. Parents
  4. Brothers and sisters
  5. Grandparents
  6. Uncles and aunts
  7. Cousins
  8. The Crown.

The amount that an individual will receive from your estate is uncertain. It depends on the value of your estate when you pass away and who has survived you from the list above.

A special mention must go to the following groups of people who, if you die without a will, will inherit nothing!

  1. Cohabitants or unmarried partners
  2. Common law spouses
  3. Friends
  4. Stepparents or stepchildren
  5. Ex-spouses or civil partners.

So, it is a much better idea to complete a Will, no matter how scary a prospect it is. And it’s a good idea to get a professional to help to make sure everything is done properly. We’re confident that we can make the whole process much less daunting than you might be thinking!

If Ann-Marie has convinced you that it’s time to put a Will in place – and we urge you to do so – you can reach her on 01603 972525 or at ann-marie@advicebybeyond.co.uk

First published August 2020; last reviewed November 2023.