Your guide to why you need a Will

When thinking about how your estate will be passed on, you will naturally want to make sure that your wishes are followed.

Dying intestate (without a valid Will in place) can significantly increase costs and stress for your family when dealing with your estate at an already difficult time.

We know this is a deeply personal area of the law that can stir up emotions and difficult issues. As expert advisers we will always give you the best practical advice. We take great care to understand your personal concerns and will work with you to ensure that your estate benefits all those you care about.

Writing a Will is important at any stage of your life, whether starting out as a young couple, as a family or as we get older. We recommend a review every 3–5 years or upon any significant change in your circumstances.

Reasons why you need a Will

  • To specify how you want your estate to be distributed following your death.
  • To give specific gifts to those who might otherwise receive nothing from your estate.
  • To make provision for your business and how it will be dealt with following your death.
  • To protect your estate for future generations.
  • To make best use of inheritance tax exemptions and reliefs.
  • To clearly convey your wishes to help avoid family disputes.
  • To appoint guardians to look after your children.
  • To protect disabled or spendthrift beneficiaries.

Reasons to update your old Will

  • If you have married since your last Will was made, as it may no longer be valid.
  • If your financial position has changed.
  • If you have had children or grandchildren since you made your last Will.
  • If you have separated or divorced.
  • If your property has increased in value.
  • If a beneficiary of your Will has died.
  • If a beneficiary’s circumstances have changed, such as becoming disabled or going through a divorce.
  • To review changes in tax or succession legislation to consider the impact on your Will, if any.

What if you do not have a Will at the time of your death?

If you are married or in a civil partnership and have surviving children, your partner* receives all your personal belongings; the first £270,000 of your estate; half of your remaining estate and your children** will receive the remaining half of your estate. If there are no surviving children, your partner* will inherit everything.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership but do have surviving children**. Everything is shared equally
between your children. If one of your children dies before you, their share will be split between their children**. If you have no surviving children** then the whole of your estate goes to: your parents; but if none to: your full siblings ***; but if none to: your half siblings ***; but if none to: your grandparents ***; but if none to: your full uncles & aunts ***; but if none to: your half uncles & aunts ***; but if none to: The Crown.

Download or print our handy guide – Why you need a will

For more information, read our making a will section.

‘Partner’ in this context refers to your legal partner as a result of entering into marriage or a civil partnership.
** ‘Children’ in this context includes illegitimate and adopted children, but not step-children.
*** If those relatives were not living at the date of death but they left descendants who are, then those
descendants would usually inherit the share their parent would have taken had they survived you.