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So What Is A Will? - Do I Need A Will?

By Stacy Taylor Written on:


The answer to this is an unequivocal 'Yes'.

Everyone should make a will but the message does not seem to be getting through to the public at large. It is a fact that the majority of people in England and Wales still die without making a will.

The reasons for this would appear to be a mixture of misconceptions as to what happens to a person's money, etc., on death, coupled with a superstitious fear of tempting fate.

In other words, there is a widely held superstitious belief that making a will means you will bring about your own demise. In fact, it is better to make a will while you are fit and healthy and, more importantly, while your mental capacity is beyond question. (see http://www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/legal-issues/making-a-will/)

Let us first examine some of the common beliefs surrounding wills and why these are incorrect.

I am married so my husbandlwife will get everything

This apparently widely held belief is not correct. If you die without making a will, the law declares you to be `intestate' and decides where your money goes. In some instances, this can be to the Crown. The Appendix shows the division of the estate according to the intestacy laws.

You will see that your spouse will not necessarily receive all of your estate and may well have to share it with your children and/or other relatives. This will often be contrary to your wishes and may also cause untold distress to the bereaved spouse.

The law of intestacy does not recognise the claims of stepchildren or cohabiters either.

If your stepchildren have lived with you since they were very small, you may well regard them as your children and wish to see them have something from your estate. Without the existence of a will giving them specific provision, they will be left out. Likewise, a co-habitee is entitled to nothing under the intestacy laws.

What next -More information

Free Will Sample download

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English laFree Will download


Perhaps you might consider taking legal advice from a solicitor about making a will if any of the following apply to your circumstances:


  1. A number of people could make a claim on your estate when you pass away because they depend on yourself financially
  2. You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for children, to save tax, or simply protect your assets in some way after you become deceased)
  3. Your physical and permanent home is not in the UK and / or you are not a British citizen
  4. You live here in the UK but you have additional property abroad
  5. You own all or part of a UK business.

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English law.

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