Legal Guides

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What Is The Purpose Of A Will?

There are lots of reasons why people don’t have a Will but the majority know that they should. This article explores what a Will actually is, how it works and why it is so important…

What is a Will?

Essentially, a Will is a legal document to ensure your money and estate is inherited by the people you want to benefit and, of equal importance, doesn’t go to people who you don’t want to benefit.

The actual process of writing a Will is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. Yet despite this, more than two thirds of people in the UK die without a Will.

Why is a Will important?
  • A will makes sure your spouse or partner gets everything of yours (without it they might not)
  • It ensures your children get the Guardian(s) you want so you know who will be responsible for your children’s upbringing if both parents should die – it will also give the Guardian(s) the legal right to look after the children’s inheritance in trust until they are of age
  • It ensures that what you have goes where and to who you want it to
  • It states what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you
  • It establishes who will manage your affairs after death (your Executor), who will inherit your family heirlooms/legacies, how money will be distributed to your charity of choice, your funeral wishes, and trusts.

You need to make sure your Will is formally witnessed and signed in order to make it legally valid. Whilst you can make a Will yourself, it is strongly advised you discuss your circumstances with a professional to ensure you are considering all your needs.

Simple or basic Wills often offered online or by banks and unions are sometimes not enough.

They do not:-

  • Protect your estate if your spouse or partner remarries or marries
  • Protect your children’s inheritance from a divorce
  • Protect your grandchildren’s inheritance from your children’s death
  • Protect a child with addictive issues, who inherits
  • Protect a child with financial problems and creditors, who inherits
The Benefits Of Estate Planning

Having a Will in place, in conjunction with careful estate planning, may also help to minimise the impact of Inheritance Tax.

You need more than a simple Will to achieve this. DIY Wills or simple wills on the internet or from the Post Office might seem cheap but they don’t offer total protection.

By taking a little time to talk with a professional – whether that’s a Will Writer, Estate Planner, Financial Advisor or Solicitor – before you make a Will, you’ll know you’ve considered the every scenario. You’ll probably be surprised how inexpensive it is to protect your loved ones.

By preparing and taking responsibility for the inevitable, you can help avoid any disagreement and confusion amongst those left behind, which can often result in unnecessary stress and costly legal bills.

If you pass away without a Will in place, you are said to have passed away “intestate”. According to UK intestacy rules, those who you would have liked to provide for can receive little or nothing.

Having made your Will make sure it can be found because if it’s lost or defaced then you will still be considered to have died “intestate” when the time comes.

Finally, having made your Will be sure to review it regularly ie. every three years, to ensure its up to date and relevant.


Jennifer Wilcox

Kings Court Trust

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. 

Published on 30th September 2013
(Last updated 14th July 2023)