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The Importance of Making and Updating a Will

Research shows there is still reluctance to write a Will, meaning that a large percentage of the UK population will have their estate passed on according to the laws of intestacy, which may not reflect their wishes. 

Making a Will is important to ensure your estate is dealt with in the way you want after your death and keeping it regularly updated ensures your Will still reflects your wishes amongst changing circumstances. With effective planning you can provide for your loved ones and, potentially, save tax.

Dying Matters Awareness Week (which takes place from 6 – 12 May) highlights the importance of discussing and preparing for the future and the importance of making a Will or, updating your Will to ensure your final wishes are known.  

Of equal importance in this awareness period is exploring the way we talk about death and dying, and the different support people require when experiencing grief. 

We have recently partnered with AtaLoss – who connect and bring together over 2,000 local and national bereavement services, as well as offering practical information and advice.

“We’ve partnered with AtaLoss, ensuring our clients get the support they need, in the most difficult of circumstances, through access to information and support. Together, we are better placed to ensure their legal, financial and personal needs are met.”

The death of someone close can be traumatic. Feelings of grief might be exacerbated should you find yourself responsible for having to deal with the estate of a loved one and be unsure where best to start. 

Having an up-to-date Will can make an incredibly difficult time that little bit easier by avoiding unnecessary uncertainty for those that come to deal with your estate. 

For those seeking additional information, we have addressed some frequently asked questions – those we are typically asked by our clients.

What Is A Will?

A Will is a legal document that sets out what you want to happen to your estate when you die. Every estate will be different, but a basic Will sets out:

  • Who your beneficiaries are – the people you want to leave your assets to
  • How you want your assets divided up
  • Who your executors are – the people who will administer your estate according to the terms of the Will.

A Will can deal with many more things, but these are the key points. Find out more on our Will Writing page.

How Do You Make A Will?

We offer a number of options to suit you and your needs – you can make a Will online, by post, or in person. We’ll advise you on the best way to structure it.  

Once it’s drafted and you’re happy with it, you and two witnesses will need to sign it together in order to ensure it is valid.  

What Do You Need To Consider When Making A Will?

Every estate will be different but there are a number of things to bear in mind when writing your Will. These include:

  • Who do you want to inherit your assets?
  • Do you need to plan for inheritance tax?
  • Do you have assets in different countries?
  • Do you own, or co-own, a business?
  • Do you need to provide for children from a previous marriage, whilst still providing for a current partner?
  • Will your partner be able to stay in your home if you die?

Read our Wills Checklist for more information.

How Can I Avoid Making A Mistake When Preparing A Will?

It’s always best to involve a solicitor when you’re making or changing your Will. This will make sure your Will covers everything you need it to and that it’s legally binding.  

Read our article on common mistakes you can make when preparing a Will to help make sure you avoid anything that will cause problems.

How Do I Leave Money To Charity In My Will?

Leaving money to charity can benefit others and also reduce the amount of tax on your estate, meaning your family can get the most out of their inheritance. How to leave money to a charity in your Will

Do I Need A Solicitor?

It’s not essential to have a solicitor but it is advisable. We can help you structure your Will in the best way to avoid paying too much tax and make sure your loved ones are provided for. 

By using a solicitor you can also be sure that your Will is valid and won’t be disregarded after your death.

Do I Need A Will?

We advise everyone to consider making a Will. If you have anything to pass on, you should make a Will. Find out if you need a Will

Can I Exclude Close Family From My Will?

You’re allowed to include or exclude whoever you like. However, to make sure your wishes are carried out, you should seek legal advice on how to structure your Will.

What Does An Executor Do?

The executor is the person (or people) who administers your estate after your death. They’re in charge of paying any debts, collecting the value of the estate (i.e. selling property) and distributing the inheritance to beneficiaries. Find out more about what an executor does.

When Do I Need To Review My Will?

If there’s any change in your circumstances it’s important to review your Will. This is especially the case for major life changes, such as:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • The birth of children or grandchildren
  • Significant changes to your financial circumstances.

It’s especially important to review the terms of your Will if you divorce, as it won’t automatically be revoked and your ex-partner’s share could upset the rest of your estate. 

What If I Own A Business?

Having a Will is very important if you own all or part of a business. You can set out who would inherit your shares, who would take over the running of it day to day, and what should happen if your business partner wants to sell. Find out more about wills for business owners.

How Can I Make Information Easy For My Loved Ones To Find?

Making sure all the important information is easy to find can help make life easier for your loved ones when you pass away. 

This includes details such as:

  • Your personal information, such as national insurance number and date of birth
  • Contact details for you next of kin and details of anyone you want to be notified of your death
  • Where your Will and other important documents are
  • Account details and passwords for online banking and other services
  • Any specific instructions for your loved ones to follow.

How to make information easier for loved ones to find.

What Does A Witness Have To Do?

When you make a Will it’s essential to have two independent people witness your signature. This is to confirm that it’s your signature on the document. 

This ensures the Will is legally binding and can be held up as valid if someone tries to make a claim against it. 

Your witnesses have to be impartial and mustn’t stand to gain from the Will – this means your beneficiaries or their spouses cannot be witnesses. Read more about witnessing a Will

What Happens If I Get Divorced?

Many people assume that getting divorced cancels out any Will they made during their marriage. This isn’t the case, and failing to update your Will following divorce could have serious consequences for your estate.

Read more on our page, Does Divorce Invalidate A Will?

Should you need support visit the AtaLoss website: is the UK's signposting and information website for bereaved people