January is a great time to review your finances for the year and make a plan to tackle all those annoying (but really important) outstanding admin tasks. Top of your list in 2024 should be making a Will!

The National Will Register produced a report in 2023 which revealed that over half (56%) of UK adults don’t have a Will! Interestingly, men are more likely to have made a Will and discussed it with their loved ones than women. 

Reasons given for not making a Will were that they ‘hadn’t got round to it yet’ and that they ‘didn’t have enough to leave’ in a Will. One in ten felt that their estate was too simple to need a Will and another one in ten said that they didn’t know how to make a Will. Of those that had made a Will, the majority were over 55!

Let’s address some of the reasons for not writing a Will.

‘Haven’t got round to it’

There’s a misconception that writing a Will has to be time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be. If your situation is straightforward, you could use a DIY Will template with standard sections and legal terms. 

‘Don’t have enough to leave in a Will’

Wills cover more than just what you own – you can appoint guardians for your children, specify funeral wishes or state your wishes for your pets. Importantly, you can tell your loved ones about your wishes which gives them peace of mind and stops them guessing what you would have wanted. Your Will can also deal with your wishes for leaving any sentimental items and how you’d like your digital assets (e.g., social media accounts and online documents) to be dealt with.

‘Don’t know how to make a Will’

Many people think it’s really complicated to make a Will. Depending on your circumstances, it could be. But, if your situation is relatively simple, you could use Lawpack’s DIY Will Kit which gives you all the information you need to help you make a valid Will. It contains a solicitor-approved Guidance manual and a choice of forms with standard wording meaning you’re less likely to make a mistake. 

‘Too young to make a Will’

If you’re over 18, you can make a Will. If you’re in a relationship or you own property or you have children it’s even more important to make a Will. 

Writing a Will can save your loved ones from the heartache and trouble that is often caused by dying without one. Many people think it doesn’t matter if they don’t write a Will as all their money, property and possessions will automatically go to their loved ones anyway. Unfortunately, it isn’t always as simple as that. If you don’t have a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy rules. Under the intestacy rules, unmarried partners and close friends can’t inherit, so they could be left with nothing. With your loved ones’ financial security at stake, why would you leave it to chance? 

There are many reasons to make a Will. Here are the top 10! Read on to find out more.

1          You decide what happens to your money

If you write a Will, you have full control over how your money, property and possessions will be distributed after your death. You can also include information about your funeral plans, such as whether you want to be buried or cremated.

2          You can write a Will yourself (and it doesn’t have to be expensive!)

If your situation is straightforward, you might be surprised to find that there are a number of affordable alternatives to using a lawyer to write your Will. There is a range of options to suit every family and every financial situation. Using a DIY Will template is a particularly cost-effective way to make a Will. It’s a good idea to use one with standard sections and legal terms so that your wishes are not misinterpreted.

3          You might not want the intestacy rules to apply

The intestacy laws may not correspond with your wishes. If you die intestate, the management of your affairs is then placed in the hands of court-appointed administrators. The rules of intestacy are complex, but broadly speaking, the bulk of your estate will go to your spouse (or registered civil partner) or, if none, to your children (whether or not they are adults) and, if none, to other specified blood relatives. Think very carefully about whether this is what you want to happen. 

4          Without a Will unmarried partners can’t inherit from each other

Remember, the intestacy rules do not recognise ‘common law marriage’. Cohabitation does not have the same rights as marriage. If you’re not married to your partner and you don’t have a Will, they will get nothing!

5          You can appoint guardians for your children

If you have children, then you need a Will to make arrangements for your children in the unlikely event that both parents die. Although it’s possible for the court to appoint guardians to look after your children, these may not be the people you would have chosen. Make sure you retain control by making a Will.

6          Prevent family disputes

Sadly, sometimes there are arguments between family members over how to divide up an estate. You can make things much easier on your family by writing your Will and explaining your decisions to your family members before your death. It could save them a lot of heartache. You can leave bequests to beneficiaries in your Will, that way your family won’t have to argue about what they think you would have wanted to happen to specific items. 

7          Minimise Inheritance Tax

Bear in mind that anything you leave to your spouse or civil partner will be exempt from Inheritance Tax. This may affect how you distribute your assets. Using the Residence Nil Rate Band Allowance means that leaving property to your children and grandchildren is likely to lead to a lower Inheritance Tax bill. You don’t want to pay more money in tax if you can avoid it. Making a Will can help you do this.

8          You can name your executors

If you make a Will, you can name the people who will carry out your final wishes. It means you have control over the best people for the job. Although executors can be appointed after your death if you haven’t named any, these may not be the people you would have chosen. By writing a Will, you decide the best person to handle your financial affairs. 

9          You can protect your digital assets

These are things such as music, photographs, websites, emails and social media accounts. Do you want the information to be protected or destroyed? You might want to make sure that your executor has the passwords to these.

10        Leave a gift to charity

If there’s a specific charity you support, you might want to leave them a gift after your death. This is only possible if you write a Will.

Review your Will

Things change. It’s a good idea to review your Will every two years to make sure it still reflects your current wishes. You should also review your Will when you move home, get married, get divorced, have children, start a business, or have a significant change in your financial situation (e.g., an inheritance).

A cost-effective DIY solution: Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit

For more than 25 years, Lawpack has proved you can write your own will without it being expensive. Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit gives you the confidence and the tools to follow straightforward steps to make a valid will without the need for legal advice.

Lawpack’s Last Will & Testament Kit has been approved by solicitors and will provide you with all the information you need to make a valid will. There is a step-by-step solicitor-approved Guidance manual on writing a will and a choice of three ready-to-complete forms for use in England & Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland. 

This DIY Kit is a good option for those who want to write their own will and need a bit of extra legal guidance, but can’t afford to use a lawyer to help them write their will.