Who should make a will?

Written by    Last updated: September 25, 2006

A will is never the most romantic gesture to consider at the time you are getting married, however, it is vitally important to protect your family in the event of your death.

Without one, the State directs who inherits, so your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing. It is particularly important to make a will if you are not married to your partner. This is because the law does not at the moment automatically recognise partners as having the same rights as husbands and wives. As a result, even if you’ve lived together for many years, your partner may be left with nothing. Whilst this is likely to change with a Bill before Parliament it is not clear when and exactly how.

A will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you die.

Once you have had a will drawn up, some changes to your circumstances (for example, marriage, separation or divorce) can make all or part of that will invalid or inadequate. This means that you must review your will regularly, to reflect any major life changes. Examples of some of these life changes are given in this pack.

Adam and Jane

Adam did not bother to make a Will, thinking everything would go to his wife, Jane. He left property worth £300,000 and no children. Jane survived him as did his two estranged brothers. Jane is only entitled to his personal effects (furniture etc), £200,000 and half the balance giving her a further £50,000. The brothers took £25,000 each.

Michael didn’t make a Will either and always wanted his worldwide estate, including his home, to go to Gillian. Michael and Gillian were engaged but weren’t to be married until next year when Michael died. Donald was Michael’s father and had never liked Gillian. When Michael died he inherited everything and kicked Gillian out. In order to receive anything Gillian has had to talk to her lawyers to bring a claim against Michael’s estate.

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