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Published 28th January 2021 | Wills

New year, new Will

Have you started this 2021 with some resolutions? Maybe you are still keeping up your diet or exercise regime, or perhaps putting money regularly in your savings or reading every day. Whatever they are, it is easy for your goals to fall victim to distractions.

There is one resolution, however, that with determination you can simply go ahead and tick off your list — and that is making a Will.

Why is making a new Will important at any time?

There is absolutely no need to wait until New Year to make your Will. In fact, the sooner you do it, the better.

A Will outlines what will happen to your assets, including your property after you have gone. The real purpose of making a Will is to give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will be provided for according to your wishes.

This is important in any circumstances, but even more so if you have children. If anything should happen to you, they will be dependent on whatever arrangements you may have made for them. Without a Will, there is no guarantee that they will be adequately provided for.

Worryingly, more than half of the adult population in the UK do not currently have a valid Will. Some of these people may feel that they have “nothing to leave” or “no-one to leave it to”. However, things are not always necessarily what they seem.

Most of us have more than we assume. A car, for instance, is a major possession, and certainly if you own a property, it will form a substantial legacy. Without a Will, you cannot specify who you wish to benefit from these, whether it is family, friends or even a charity.

Even if you specifically did not want your inheritance to go to your family, it would be vital to make this clear in your Will. Only by specifying an alternative provision for your assets meaning you ultimately keep control.

Why is making a Will important now?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, life has become more uncertain for all of us. Many people have sadly died due to the virus, others have been left without mental capacity. In addition, a proportion of those recovering have developed so-called “long Covid”, and the long-term implications of this are not yet clear.

In these circumstances, it is inevitable to be thinking more about making plans following our death, whenever that might happen. At the same time, some of us

have more time on our hands. Perhaps you have been furloughed from your job; perhaps working from home has given you back the time you normally spend on your daily commute.

Why not put that extra time to good use by planning and arranging a Will? This will ensure your loved ones are provided for should anything happen to you, whether or not it is connected with the pandemic.

At what age should you make a Will?

Anyone aged eighteen or over, who is judged to have mental capacity to understand their affairs, can legally make a Will. However, the common perception is that this is something you can ignore until you are much older. There are two very good reasons, though, why you should make a Will as soon as possible.

Life is uncertain — particularly now during this pandemic. While we might not like to think about it, tragedy does not discriminate and could strike at any age.

For another thing, the pre-requisite – that you must have mental capacity means that by the time you need a Will, you may be unable to legally make one. The most common reason for losing capacity is developing Alzheimer’s, which is mostly associated with old age. However, Alzheimer’s can sometimes develop at a relatively young age, and it is not the only way of losing mental capacity. Brain damage from a road accident, for instance, could leave you unable to make a Will.

It really is never too early to make a Will. If your circumstances change (having another child, for instance), you can and should update your Will.

Some believe that having a responsible family who you are on good terms with means that they can decide among themselves how your estate should be divided.

Why not trust my family to sort out my affairs?

However, this is by no means guaranteed. Without a Will, the law will divide your estate according to the intestacy rules, and the wishes of your family members will not be taken into account. This is especially critical if there are problems about the care of your children. If you are not currently married, the law will not necessarily appoint the guardians you would have wished.

Problems can also arise if you are not legally married to your partner. In this case, if you own the family home, there is no guarantee that your partner will be able to continue living in it.

Even if your affairs are simple, there is still no reason to leave your affairs unsettled.

Can a new Will be made at the moment?

The Covid-19 lockdown has made many services either unavailable or difficult to access. Fortunately, this does not apply to making a Will.

A Will is a legal document, and even when it is very straightforward, it has to be drawn up in very specific terms. Online do-it-yourself Wills leave you at a very high risk of making an error that could either invalidate your Will or change the terms from your intentions. An unqualified Will writer would not have the legal knowledge to ensure that errors have been removed.

The only secure way of ensuring that your Will is written to accurately reflect your wishes is to use a Wills specialist. At Osborne Morris & Morgan, we are open for business and arrange all contact with you safely. Our Will appointments are held by phone or video calls, and we shall advise you on how to get your Will witnessed without putting anyone at risk.

If you do not yet have a Will, or if you are yet to update your existing Will, tick off that New Year’s resolution from your list, by getting in touch with us to arrange today.

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Osborne Morris & Morgan is an award-winning and nationally-recognised firm of solicitors. Based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, our team of solicitors serve clients in the home counties and throughout the UK.

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