It's a common misconception that making a Will is an activity reserved for the elderly. To combat this, we have put together our top five reasons why it's important to consider making a Will while still in your twenties.
1. Without a Will, Inheritance Rules Determine What Happens to Your Estate
In England and Wales, if you die without a valid Will in place, then inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy will come into play. These rules will determine what will happen to everything you own (known collectively as your Estate). This includes the contents of any bank accounts, your pension, your personal possessions, your home (if you own it) and even your car.
The Rules of Intestacy place your relatives in order of priority. They do not however recognise friends, unmarried partners or charities. If you are married, then your spouse would be at the top of this list, then your children (if you have any) would be next in line, followed by your parents.
Without a Will, you will have no control over who receives what from your Estate. This means that those you leave behind may not be provided for in the way that you would want, while others could benefit from your Estate when you may not have chosen them to. The best way to ensure that your money and possessions go to the right people when you die is to set out your wishes in a Will.
2. You Never Know what the Future Holds
No one can see into the future and this means that no one knows when an accident or illness could strike. Being in your twenties unfortunately doesn't make you invincible so it's always wise to be prepared for the unexpected.
Once you've made your Will you can relax in the knowledge that you're covered if anything should happen in the future. The only way that your Will can be revoked is if you decide to destroy it or if you get married (and the Will hasn't been made in 'contemplation' of your marriage). For more information, see How Does Marriage Affect Your Will?
It's better to prepare early and make your Will now rather than to put it off until it's too late.
For initial advice and guidance call Co-op Legal Services on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will help you.
3. Unmarried Partners Aren't Recognised under the Rules of Intestacy
As mentioned above, the Rules of Intestacy don't cater for unmarried partners. This is the case regardless of how long you've been together and whether you live together or not. Living together as a couple when you're not married is called 'cohabiting' and this is by far the fastest growing family type in the UK today.
More and more couples in the UK today are opting not to get married, or to live together for some time before they do get married. As a result there are currently 3.3 million cohabiting couples in the UK.
Worrying, a significant proportion of cohabiting couples don't fully understand their legal rights. Research carried out by Resolution found that 4 out of 5 cohabitants agreed that the legal rights of cohabiting couples were unclear, with two thirds mistakenly believing that they would be protected under common law marriage.
The truth is, there is no such thing as common law marriage in the England and Wales. Furthermore, the Rules of Intestacy make no allowances for cohabiting couples. This means that if you or your partner were to die without making a Will, the other would not be entitled to inherit anything.
4. If You Own a Property, Do You Know What Will Happen to It when You Die?
If you own part or all of a property, do you know what will happen to this when you die? Again, this is particularly important for cohabiting couples. If you own a property in your sole name, for example, that you and your partner (who you're not married to) live in together, they would have no entitlement to this property in the event of your death.
If you and your partner own your home jointly, then what happens to this in the event of one person's death will depend on whether you own this together as joint tenants or tenants in common.
If you own the property as joint tenants, then neither person owns an identifiable share of the property. In the event of one owner's death, the property will pass into the ownership of the surviving joint owner (regardless of whether there is a Will and what this says). If you own the property as tenants in common, however, then each of you will own an identifiable share of the property. This share will be passed on when you die either as per the terms of your Will (if you have one) or under the Rules of Intestacy if you don't.
It's really important to understand how you own your property and what this means if you die. If you live with someone else then they could potentially find themselves without a roof over their head if you don't prepare by making a Will.
5. You're Above the Legal Age Limit to Make a Will
In England and Wales, the legal age limit for making a Will is 18. Providing you're over the age of 18, and are therefore legally entitled to make a Will, there's not any real reason why you need to put it off until you're older.
By making a Will now, you can ensure that everything is in place if it's needed. As life progresses, you can update your Will to ensure that it's still fit for purpose and still an accurate reflection of your wishes.
For initial advice about making a Will call our Will writers on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will help you.