Do I need a Will? Did you know that an estimated 29.3 million adults in the UK do not have a Will? That’s 58% of the population.* It’s not something that any of us like to think about, but being prepared for the inevitable is important. There are lots of reasons why people don’t have a Will in place and it seems that a lot of people just don’t think they need one. Here at the Newcastle, we feel that it pays to plan ahead, no matter how simple or complicated your situation is. Below we look at some of the most common reasons why people don’t have a Will in place and explain why it’s important to be prepared. The view that you are too young to make a Will is understandably common and for this reason the majority of Wills written are for the ‘older’ generation. However, you can make a Will from 18 years old and if you have children, own a property or are a co-habiting couple, it is important that you have plans in place. Naming guardians of children under the age of 18 is vitally important. If a child is born to unmarried parents, there are circumstances where only the mother has automatic guardianship in the event of an untimely death. In addition, godparents are not recognised by law as legal guardians, neither are grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles. ‘Partners’ or ‘common law’ wives and husbands have no automatic right to inheritance under the Rules of Intestacy. These are laws that dictate how your estate is distributed if you die without a Will. These were written in 1925 and even though they were updated in October 2014, they still do not reflect growing ‘modern day’ family set-ups. Even if partners have been together for many years and have children, without a Will in place they will not inherit without going to court and incurring significant costs and delays. If you want to pass on any personal or sentimental possessions to specific relatives or friends it’s important that your wishes are stated in a Will, otherwise they may end up being passed to someone that you never intended to benefit. Marriage automatically revokes any previously made Will and if a marriage has broken down but divorce is not yet finalised an estranged spouse would automatically inherit your entire estate based on the current rules. Have you ever heard of sideways disinheritance? This is common under the Rules of Intestacy or inadequate Wills and occurs when an individual dies and their entire estate is passed to their spouse without ensuring provisions are made for any children of that or a previous marriage. If the surviving spouse then remarries, their estate would automatically pass to their new spouse when they die, resulting in their children from the original marriage being disinherited. You may also use a Will to highlight personal wishes around your funeral or custody of beloved pets. If you want a charity to benefit from your estate, they can only do so if they are named in a Will. All of the above reasons mean that it is important to establish a Will whilst you can and to ensure that it is kept up to date when circumstances change. Dying without a Will often leads to distress, family disputes and high legal fees for those you leave behind. By being prepared you could save your family a great deal of strain at what would already be a painful time. None of us know what the future holds but by making a Will you have the valuable peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and your wishes will be followed. *Source: http://www.unbiased.co.uk/write-and-register-a-will (2014) Newcastle Building Society Principal Office: Portland House, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AL. Newcastle Building Society is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Newcastle Building Society is entered in the Financial Services Register under number 156058. You can check this on the Financial Services Register or by contacting the Financial Conduct Authority on 0800 111 6768. Call 0845 734 4345 or visit us online www.newcastle.co.uk Guide to planning your estateWhat happens to debts when someone dies?