Is your New Year’s resolution to make a will?

Was this last year’s resolution too?

Don’t put it off for another year!!

It’s that time of year again, we’re all determined, we all have our list of things we must do this year; and quite possibly the list includes making wills. But then again last year’s list probably included this very important task too! Most of us know that it’s something we should do, the media including the BBC and Sunday newspapers have been reminding us since Christmas the dire consequences of dying intestate. The truth is 67% of people in the UK still die without a will and because of this in many cases their wishes aren’t carried out, relatives they actively disliked whilst alive inherit their hard earned cash and in extreme cases the government stands to make some very easy money!

The favourite reason given in a recent survey for putting this relatively simple job off was, I’m too young to make a will, wills are for old people. Whatever your age, if your estate is worth more than £5000 ( not including allowances for joint assets) on your death an application will have to be made to the Probate Court to obtain a Grant of Probate. If you have family and friends they will be grieving anyway, don’t make things harder for them at a difficult time by not putting your affairs in order.

Here is a list of 10 extremely good reasons to write a will, most people find at least 3 of these reasons relate to them:

  • To appoint people to look after your estate (your executors) reducing the risk of family arguments.

  • To appoint guardians to look after children under the age of 18.

  • To ensure your Spouse, children, stepchildren and grandchildren inherit.

  • To have peace of mind knowing that your wishes are known and will be carried out.

  • To stop your home being sold to pay for nursing home fees.

  • To give a partner, parent or child that lives in your property the right to continue living there after your death.

  • To make your funeral requests known.

  • To leave a gift, family heirloom or memento to family members

  • To donate a legacy to your favourite charity.

  • To ensure your common law partner inherits your estate.

There are various ways to write a will, you can get a do your own kit from W H Smith or follow a will writing programme on line, these are the cheapest alternatives, but also the least likely to be accepted by the courts if the wording is at all ambiguous, or it is witnessed incorrectly.

You can go to your local solicitor’s office, or a professional will writer will probably visit you at home, it’s always better to get personal recommendations and the Federation internet site has a choice (look under Member Services – password gpf 2010).

We all find it hard to face our own mortality. It makes us feel morbid, so we shut it out of our minds. Often it takes the death of a parent or elderly relative or if we hear of an unfortunate accident before we are prompted to take action. Alternatively starting a family or getting married may be triggers that make us feel we should now act responsibly. Appointing guardians for children under 18 is one of the main reasons cited by people under 40 for biting the bullet; because in the unfortunate event of your children being orphaned the court will decide who will take care of them in future if no guardian has been appointed in a will.

To conclude, wills are not just for the elderly. They’re for anybody with family and friends they care about. Also If you care about who receives what and don’t want the law of intestacy to prevail, then make a will. If you wait until your old, you risk not making one at all! So go on, make that New Year’s resolution, but this time grit your teeth and make that phone call, you’ll sleep better once the documents are signed, that’s a promise!