While it is difficult to say what finally makes people decide they need a will, there are certainly lots of benefits to doing so. The most frequently mentioned of which is that a will allows you to decide what you would like to happen to your estate. However, if you are not still not sure whether you need a will it is worth thinking about how it can help the people and causes that you care about.
Sometimes it helps to be clear what a will actually is. In straightforward terms, it’s the binding document that formally sets out your wishes about your affairs. Set out in legal language, with strict requirements about signature and witnessing, it’s how you know that your wishes will be carried out.
Making a will can help to reduce the pressure on your loved ones at a difficult time. Your will can dramatically reduce the burden on them after your death by including details about funeral plans, who you would like to administer your estate, and what you would like to happen to your property. It can also be comforting to know that any gifts people receive under your will are what you wanted to happen rather than the law making the decision for you.
Making a will is also the only way you can use your estate to support charities or give gifts to friends. If you die without a will, your assets will be given to your closest family members according to the intestacy rules: avoiding intestacy is in everybody's best interest. It can often be reassuring to know that by making a will you are supporting good causes, and leaving items of emotional significance to the people that you care about.
A will also gives you a positive opportunity to provide for future generations, whether by putting your assets in a will trust to provide income for your family, or to appoint guardians to look after your children.
The following pages will set out in detail some of the positive things that can be done with a will, as well as explaining how a will can help those closest to you.
(If a term is in bold, that means it's in our Glossary.)
Your will is your formal instruction for providing for your loved ones after your death
A will gives you control over your estate and provides certainty to those you leave behind
A clear will can ensure that future generations are provided for
Use your will to avoid intestacy and pass on your property in the way you choose
Making a will can reduce the inheritance tax liability of your estate
Will trusts help preserve your property look after your heirs in a managed way
To leave gifts to friends in your will they will need to be specifically named as beneficiaries
Leaving gifts to charity in your will can support a good cause and have advantages for your estate