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According to a recent study by Standard Life, more than half of British adults don’t have a will*, putting their heirs at risk of paying hefty legal bills to untangle estates.

The research found that nearly two-thirds (60%) of 35-44-year-olds didn’t have a will, while two-fifths (38%) of 45 to 54 year-olds, a third (32%) of 55 to 64 year-olds and more than a fifth (22%) of over 65s were without a will.

A will ensures that your assets are shared in the way that you would like. If you’re an unmarried couple, you can make sure your partner is provided for and if divorced, you can decide whether to leave anything to your former partner.

The research found that more than half (56%) of those without a will claimed they just hadn’t got round to doing it yet. This figure increases to 79% for those in the 55 to 64 age bracket and almost a half (45%) for over 65s.
The research also found that nearly a third (30%) of those with a will had not reviewed it in the past three to ten years, with one in ten not having looked at it in more than a decade – despite changes to the inheritance tax rules being introduced in 2006 and 2007.

Although it is possible to write a will yourself, there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure that your will is valid. Importantly, employing the services of a Solicitor can ensure the process is smooth and that you don’t pay more inheritance tax than necessary.

Here are some useful points to consider.

  • Begin by taking some time to think about what you want to include in your will, look at how much money and what property and possessions you have. Crucially, think about whom you want to benefit from your will and who is best placed to look after your children if under the age of 18
  • Also consider who you would like to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death. You can appoint an executor at any time by naming them in your will
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, two witnesses are required to be present when a will is signed and they must have no beneficial interest as this could make it invalid
  • Remember once you’ve made your will it’s important to keep it in a safe place and tell your executor, close friend or relative where it is
  • You should also consider reviewing it every five years and after any major change in your life – such as separation, marriage, divorce, having a child or moving house

If you are looking to review your will, contact your usual adviser who will be happy to help. If you haven’t made a will, contact us and we will be happy to take you through the steps and refer you to one of our trusted partners if appropriate.

*The Financial Services Authority does not regulate will writing

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