Why make a Will?

Many adults in England and Wales do not have a valid Will. For many of these people this means that when they die their estate will not be dealt with in the way they would have wished.  Putting a Will in place means that this will not happen.

Wills are documents that set out what you want to happen on your death.  They can include the following:

  • Appointment of executors, the people who will look after your estate when you die;
  • Appointment of guardians for any minor children you have when you die;
  • Specific gifts to certain people, such as any particular items of jewellery or sums of money;
  • Any gifts you wish to make to charity;
  • What you want to happen to the rest of your estate (after any specific gifts have been made) when you die, including who you want to benefit, and in what shares;
  • What you want to happen to your estate if the people you want it to pass to have already died themselves; and
  • Any funeral wishes you might have, such as whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated.

For unmarried couples Wills are particularly important as if one of the couple dies then all of their assets pass to their children or to their parents (if they did not have any children), and nothing goes to their partner.  This is unlikely to be what the person would have wanted, and if they had put a Will in place then they would have been able to specify exactly what they wanted to happen to their estate.

Even for married couples Wills are still important.  The intestacy rules provide that only a certain amount of the estate of someone who dies passes to their spouse.  The rest is divided between the person’s children, or other family if there are no children, and a trust in which the surviving spouse will only have a life interest.  A life interest means that although they could take the income from assets within that trust they would not be able to use the capital.

For single people without children you may not want your estate to simply pass to your parents, as they may have worries about the amount in their own estates for reasons of inheritance tax. 

If you put a Will in place you can set out exactly what you want to happen to your estate when you die. This prevents any unmarried partners having to make claims to the court for a share in your estate, and can help to reduce the stress suffered by your family at an already distressing time.

Couples can also speak to Shepherd, Harris & Co about using Wills to protect some of your estate from being used for care home fees in the future.

The Certainty National Will Register

We are members of the Certainty National Will Register and so we can register your Will with Certainty for you.  If your Will was written with us prior to 29th June 2011 then registration is FREE!  If your Will was written after this date then there is a small registration charge, included in the costs set out below.

The Certainty Register allows your family to locate your Will when you pass away as it records the solicitor’s office where your Will is held.  This ensures that your family can locate your Will on your death and ensure that your last wishes are respected.  We hold your Will safely, but we digitally record its location on the Certainty Register so that beneficiaries can always locate it when the time comes.

In a recent survey 67% of people in the UK said that they would not know where to locate their parents’ Wills.  The passage of time, house moves and new relationships are all contributing factors to this statistic.


If you wish to discuss putting a Will in place, or registering an existing Will with Certainty, then please contact Helen Phillips or telephone her on 020 8363 8341.

Next Steps...

For further wills and probate, contentious probate and enduring power of attorney in the UK advice or to speak to one of our expert team of wills and probate solicitors please contact Helen Phillips or Elizabeth Smith by telephone on 020 8363 8341.

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