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Wills! We’re always being told we should make one, especially if there are kids and property involved. But what is a ‘proper’ will and is it possible to make your own? But, before we get on to that, let’s have a look at why you’d need a will in the first place. Then, next time, we’ll look at the best way to make your will, without it costing you a fortune!

Do I really need a will?

You may think that you’ve really got nothing of value to leave, so what would you need a will for anyway? This can be especially true if you’ve been quoted the average solicitors price of between £150 and £400 for just a simple version i.e. you’re married so everything passes to your spouse when you die.

But, imagine you die leaving three children behind and have no living spouse. If you don’t tell the kids who’s supposed to get the solid silver tea service and the heirloom carriage clock sitting on the mantelpiece, it’s possible they could be fighting over who gets what pretty quickly. It’s sad, but it happens – a lot!

A will prevents all this by letting everyone know exactly what you want when you’re gone. That doesn’t mean it can’t be contested in certain circumstances, for example if a family member has been left out, or if the family feels the will was made under coercion – that simply means someone was pushed into making a will – but it does make it a lot harder.

When you really should have a will

If any of the following circumstances apply to you, you really should make a will.

• You have kids under the age of 18 – you’ll need to say who you’d like to take care of your kids if you die. There can be all kinds of tricky scenarios, like parents who have are separated, but not yet divorced, living with new partners and their kids.

• You have pets who’ll need care after you die – who’ll look after little lucky the cat if you die?

• You are divorced – if you’re divorced, you may want to put clauses in your will that change what your ex-partner gets if they were to remarry.

• You are living with your partner, but you’re not married – unfortunately, even if you’ve been living with someone for thirty years, if you’re not married and you die without a will stating that you want everything to go to them, it won’t happen. In the eyes of the law, you’re not related.

• You have property – if you have a joint mortgage, the home ownership would simply pass to the other person named on it. However, if you have what’s called a ‘tenants in common’ mortgage, you’d have to state what you wish to happen to your part of the property if you die.

• You have specific requests for your funeral – if you don’t tell people what you want at your funeral, you’re not likely to get it.

• You own a business – if you are the sole director of your own business, you’ll need to detail who the business will pass to, if you die.

Okay, that’ll do for this week. Now that we know who needs a will, next time we’ll look at how you can get a will for free. Or if you don’t qualify for a free one, really cheaply.

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