When should I make a Will?

A question I get asked often is, “When should I make a Will?”

I guess there is a short answer and a long one. The short answer is: it is never too early, but it can often be too late.

In terms of the long answer, I always say that any life changing events usually trigger people to write or update their Wills. Obviously, it’s not just about that, and there are other reasons too, but these big milestones are usually the main ones. In no particular order, marriage, divorce, having a child, buying a home, inheriting wealth, co-habiting and a death are all big reasons why people write or change their Wills.

– Marriage and entering in to a civil partnership, under the law will automatically revoke any earlier Will. And people want to ensure that their spouse/partner is adequately provided. This becomes crucial if there are children from previous relationships.

– Whereas with marriage there is a need and desire to make sure your spouse/partner is protected, on divorce or separation there becomes a very strong desire to absolutely make sure your ex does NOT get anything. This is often one of the first things separating or separated couples do.

– Having a child is a game-changer for most couples. Without a Will or other formal agreement in place in the unlikely event that both parents die, the child or children become under the control of the courts who will decide where that child or children end up. And that may not necessarily be where the parents would have chosen. Making a Will puts the parents in control, and not the courts.

– When buying house, how that house is owned and dealt with upon death is. important so another good reason for making a Will.

– If someone inherits wealth how that wealth is distributed becomes important. I once had a client many years ago who lived in a Council home but won over £100,000 on the lottery. Suddenly, from having nothing he had acquired a few quid, so making a Will became important to him. That was a relatively small amount, so larger amounts need careful planning.

– Even in 2024 co-habiting couples are still not recognised in law. They are invisible, effectively. They also have potential inheritance tax issues because they do not have the same favourable tax position as married couples. So good advice is important here to minimise the risks. And minimise the tax bill!

– Finally, death of a partner or spouse very often triggers the survivor to review things. or even the death of someone more distant can be enough to get someone to review their own arrangements.

If you or someone you knows feels that it is time to make or update a Will, why not book a FREE, non-obligatory consultation daytime or evening, usually in your own home., with an award-winning firm?