When is the best time to write a will?

Have you written your will yet? Many people neglect to write one before it’s too late and, for this reason, we’ve created an informative article about when we believe the best time is to write a will.

The writing of a will is incredibly important, and many people often neglect to do so. This may be because they don’t believe they need one yet or because they’re scared of thinking about death, amongst other reasons. Royal London, an insurance company, found that 54 per cent of adults in Britain don’t have a will, and a total of 5.4 million don’t know how to make one.

When you pass away, your chosen executor(s) will be required to deal with handling your estate, which may require them to seek a probate solicitor, especially where they are grieving your death and need assistance with the task. Writing a Will won’t prevent this, but it may help to make the process far easier than dealing with an estate under the rules of intestacy.

To help you realise the importance of having a will, we’ve written a guide to when you should have a will and why exactly.

Why is it important to have a will?

When someone dies without a will, it has the potential to cause disputes between family members. This is especially the case where someone believes they are entitled to something from the deceased person’s estate. Therefore, having a Will is extremely important, as it determines many aspects, including:

  • Who will manage your estate.
  • Who will inherit your assets and property.
  • Who will take care of your children if they’re under the age of 18.
  • Who will take care of your pets.
  • How you would like your funeral to be.

Making a will is a simple task and should not be put off as death can, unfortunately, happen at any point in your life, whether you are younger or older. For further encouragement as to why you should have a Will, see Freewill.

When is the best time to write a will?

When you get married

When you get married, any will you have previously written is immediately void. This means you will need to make a new Will that reflects your wishes. Sometimes this can be a good thing, especially where there has been a long period of time since your last will.

If you have not written a will prior to your marriage, it’s vital to do so once you are married. The reason for this is that, if you were to die without a valid Will, you legally die as an intestate person. What this means is that all of your personal belongings and assets below £270,000 will be inherited by your spouse (this only applies where you have children). If you do not have any children, your spouse will inherit your entire estate.

The reason why you should make a will when you marry is because it might be that you wish to leave all or part of your estate to a family member or a friend. To do this, you will need to have it written in a valid will, which clarifies your wishes.

When you get divorced

When going into marriage, there are a few things you should know. If you have an existing will and wish to prevent it from being revoked, you can state in your current will that you wish to marry a particular person and that your Will should not be revoked when doing so.

Unlike when you marry, however, divorcing from your spouse does not revoke your Will; it will remain the same, except your spouse will not be an executor or inherit from your estate. Whilst it might seem pointless to make changes to your Will, it’s always recommended to update your Will every five years, or when you undergo a significant life change, such as divorcing a spouse.

When you have children

Whilst your children are very likely to benefit from your estate even where you die as an intestate person, it’s crucial to make one for other reasons which will affect them. Making a will when you have children is paramount, especially if they are under the age of 18.

A will can set out a number of important factors, such as who will take care of your children in the event of you and their other parents’ death and how assets will be divided amongst your children and anyone else you wish to benefit from your estate.

Cup of Toast provides some useful information for why it’s crucial to write a will once you’ve had children.

When you purchase property

Buying property is a considerable change to the value of your estate. For this reason, it’s essential to make a Will so that you can decide who you wish to inherit the property after your death.

Where you haven’t updated your will for a while

The recommended time to update your Will is every five years, as recommended by both will writing experts and by GOV.UK, particularly where you undergo any significant life changes, such as:

  • Getting separated or divorced
  • Getting married or entering a civil partnership
  • Having a child
  • Moving house
  • If the executor of the Will dies

Don’t neglect your will

What we can determine is that it’s easy for many people to presume they won’t die for many decades. With this mindset, why should they bother writing a will when they don’t need it?

That said, life can be cruel, and it does take peoples’ lives as quickly as it gives, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t waste time – write your will when at least one of these aspects applies to you.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained Wills and Probate professional. Be sure to consult a Wills and Probate professional if you’re seeking advice about writing a Will. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

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