Wills have the power to give us a voice when we are no longer there to speak for ourselves, and to enable us to continue protecting our loved ones as they grieve. They are an invaluable document – something none of us can afford to go without, or delay writing – but there are still plenty of damaging misconceptions out there that need to be dispelled.
These misconceptions can cause upsets that can never truly be healed, or mean that your loved ones have no other choice but to turn to will dispute solicitors – and potentially lengthy court cases.
So, whether you’ve already drafted your will but want to check-in and ensure it’s up to date – and truly ready to serve the purpose you need and expect it to serve – or still need to knuckle down and get your will drafted, here are some of the most common myths you need to avoid believing.
My Partner Will Get Everything Anyway, Whether I Write A Will Or Not
This one is a lot more complicated than it sounds. If you are legally married to your partner, and you don’t have children, then, yes, all your assets will pass onto them after you die.
But there are a lot of other factors at play that could change how your estate is divided. If you and your partner are cohabiting (commonly referred to as a common law marriage), then they may not stand to inherit anything from your estate – even if you have lived together for many years, or had children together. If you have biological or legally adopted children, then they will stand to inherit everything under the rules of intestacy and your partner would need to rely on the children agreeing to vary the rules of intestacy or be forced to make a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision to be made for them.
There are plenty of things that complicate the distribution of your estate if you die intestate (without a will), so making blanket assumptions is a bad idea.
I Can’t Just Change My Will, So It Will Have To Stay As It Is
A will can be amended at any time as long as you have capacity to do so and it can be replaced with a new, up-to-date version. It’s not as complex as it sounds, provided you’re working with a solicitor to draft your will, and not using an at-home will kit.
Wills can be replaced with new versions as many times as you want. That’s why it’s always worth writing one, even if you’re still young and healthy. Some life events, such as a marriage, will automatically render your will invalid and require a replacement to be drafted, but you don’t need to wait for that.
Any time your situation changes – whether your wealth increases, you take on a new asset, have a child or form a new, special relationship – you can (and should) redraft your will.
It’s Just Easier If Everyone Gets A Fair Share, So I Won’t Bother To Write A Will
Dying intestate does not mean that everyone gets a fair share. As we mentioned above, it means that your assets will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy, and this may not be what you want.
Concessions aren’t made for anyone else in your life with whom you are close, including partners, stepchildren, financial dependents, your parents, siblings, and any nieces or nephews you may have.
Having no will makes things a lot more difficult than they need to be. Your loved ones are left without answers – without any indication as to why they weren’t considered for an inheritance. It may even mean that your will is contested down the line, which could derail relationships and cast a cloud over your loved ones’ memories of you.