The simple answer to the question of when you should make a Will is: as soon as you reach legal age. Of course, we accept that the last thing on your mind as you turn 18 is what’s going to happen when you die. So here are some of the other key moments in life where you definitely should make or change your Will.
Everything changes when you have children and, as a parent, you will do whatever is in your power to give them a secure future.
If you ultimately want to leave some or all of your estate to your children, you need to ensure your wishes are clearly set out in a Will. (Even better, you should protect their inheritance by placing assets in a Will Trust.) If you don’t, and you die intestate, your estate will automatically pass to your spouse – who is then free to pass it on as they wish. You would hope this would be to your children but, if they remarry after your death, your entire estate could be passed on to their new family.
Another good reason to make a Will when you have children is to be able to choose who would look after your children if you died whilst they were still young.
When you live with someone
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’. Unmarried partners are not entitled to inherit anything from the estate unless specifically stated in a Will. This applies regardless of how long you’ve been together or if you have children.
The estate – including your home if it’s not jointly owned – would instead pass to the next of kin, which could be a parent, sibling or even a distant relative.
Where you have children from a previous relationship, they would not be in line to inherit anything from your partner, unless stated in a Will.
When you get married or remarry
When you get married, any existing Will becomes void and your new spouse becomes your beneficiary. If you want to make any provision for your children or other heirs, you must make a Will.
When you get divorced
By contrast, when you get divorced, your Will does not become invalid. Depending on your circumstances and what’s stated in your Will, it may be wise to write a new one.
When you don’t have children
There are no rules for what to put in your Will but, if you haven’t got one, the intestacy rules state that your estate will pass to your next of kin. This would be firstly a spouse, then, if there are no children, a parent, sibling, or other relative will be your beneficiary. The only way to have a say in who gets what is to write a Will.
When you own property, money, shares or other valuable assets
As soon as you become the owner of anything of value, you should take steps to protect it. Like the insurance that protects your home or car, your Will safeguards your assets into the future when you are no longer here.
When you own a business
If you’ve ever wondered or worried about what will happen to your business when you die, you should make a Will. By doing so, your legacy can be passed on to the right beneficiaries.
There’s no better time than now
Take the first step toward protecting your estate and your loved ones’ financial security by arranging a FREE Will consultation with our Client Relationship Manager, Sharon Rigden.
Your consultation will take place at a time and location to suit you and you will not be obliged to act on the advice given.