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With the new year comes new opportunities and the chance to make a fresh start. While we make well-intentioned resolutions to drink less, exercise more or cut down on screen time, one resolution we should keep this January is to review or make a Will.

A Will is an important legal document and can help protect your loved ones after you die and ensure your estate is dealt with in the way you choose, and though it’s never nice to think about death, having a Will in place now can save family and friends a lot of stress, pain and inconvenience when the time comes.

For many people, making a Will seems like a complicated, expensive, and daunting task and while there’s no shortage of information available on the topic, there are still many myths around making a will

Am I old enough to make or need a Will?

For a will to be valid, you must be 18 years old or over and of sound mind. A Will can ensure that any of your assets, whether a family heirloom or favourite saucepan, are distributed in accordance with your own wishes when you pass.

We sometimes think Wills are for people who own multiple property and have assets to manage but this isn’t the case. Any specific requests can be made via a Will which can help avoid squabbles when it comes to sorting out your possessions.

More importantly, a Will can allow you to legally appoint a guardian(s) for any minors who survive you giving you peace of mind that your children will be taken care of.

I’m married so will everything pass to my spouse?

If you die without making a Will your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Under the rules of intestacy spouses are entitled to, personal possessions and the first £270,000 of the rest of the estate. Everything over £270,000 will then be divided between the spouse and children. If there are no children, different rules apply.

The rules are complicated and may not deal with your estate in the way you choose.

It’s worth noting that jointly held property may fall outside the estate depending on how it’s owned. For example:

  • If a property is owned with someone else (including a spouse) as beneficial joint tenants, the death of one joint tenant will mean the property will pass to the other automatically
  • If a property is owned with someone else (including a spouse) as beneficial tenants in common, the beneficial interest of each party will, on death, form part of their estate
Can I just tell my family what I want to happen after my death?

You can, but that doesn’t constitute a legal instruction on your behalf. Even if you put your wishes in writing, without a valid Will in place, the rules of intestacy will govern where your estate is passed; this may not be to the beneficiary or beneficiaries you intended.

Under the rules, only married, civil partners or other close relatives can inherit your estate when you die, so if you would like a particular person to inherit your estate, this must be specified in your Will.

When I die, will my debts disappear?

This is a common misconception. When you die, your debts don’t die with you any outstanding debts will be settled from your estate.

The remainder of your estate can only be distributed to other beneficiaries once all debts have been settled. If an executor or administrator fails to settle debts or take steps to find out if you have any outstanding debts, they can become liable for the debts.

If there isn’t enough money in the estate to cover all debts, then various rules will determine how the estate is distributed amongst creditors.

Debts will not pass to other family members.

I’ve already made a Will, is that all I need to do?

Throughout our lives, circumstances change, so it’s important to review your Will every few years to make sure you’re still happy that is meets your requirements.

A Will can be changed at anytime before your death so long as all the legal requirements are complied with.

Do I need a solicitor to make a Will?

You may have seen DIY Will kits on the market, and though these are legally binding, there are strict rules that must be followed for a Will to be valid. For peace of mind, we’d advise policyholders to seek legal guidance, particularly if they have complex family or financial situations.

For further information on the above, or details of our products and services, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email

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