While the answer is anyone over the age of 18 should have a Will, there is arguably a case for asking: do you need a Will; is it essential?
You own a property
If you own a property in your sole name, you need a Will to ensure this can be dealt with efficiently on your death.
Even if the equity is minimal; due to your mortgage, you still want to appoint the right people to deal with maintaining it, selling it, clearing the mortgage and distributing the equity to the people you want to receive it.
If you own the property as joint tenants, the surviving joint owner will solely own the property on your death; so, if you are the survivor, you become the sole owner and need a Will for the reasons above.
If you own the property as tenants in common, having a Will means you can choose to leave your interest to your co-owner, or to other people of your choosing.
You have savings
After someone has died, most banks and building societies will only release funds above a certain level (typically £15,000) on presentation of a grant of representation. This is a much easier process for your family to navigate if there is a Will.
You are married
If you are married, but do not have children, and you die without a Will, your spouse would receive your entire estate.
You may want some money to go to other family members, such as your parents, siblings, nephews, nieces or cousins.
You may want to know this will happen on your death, rather than being reliant on your spouse’s Will (if they have one) doing this for you on their death; otherwise their blood relatives will inherit on your spouse’s death and nothing that was once yours will pass to your side of the family.
You have children
Whether you are married or not, if you have children a Will is the only way to provide for them in the way you think appropriate, at the time you think appropriate.
If you are married and have children, without a Will, your children may receive assets on your death, when you may wish everything to go to your spouse. Equally, you may want your children to receive more or less than the rules set out.
If you are not married to your partner and have children, unless you have a Will, anything in your sole name will pass to your children. Your partner may not receive anything, subject to what you own jointly and how you own it together.
You have significant assets
In this case, how the rules on intestacy (the rules that apply to distribute someone’s estate on their death when there is no Will) operate are rarely efficient in terms of Inheritance Tax and, if you have assets that exceed £325,000 in value, it is worth having a Will to make sure that there are no nasty tax surprises for your loved ones.
At TWM, our expert Private Client team are here to help you and we offer an initial consultation with no obligation to proceed, so that we can discuss with you the things you should consider and help you think about your choices and options. If you need advice, please get in touch and we will be pleased to assist.