When is the Best Time to Write a Will?

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The idea of writing a will can be daunting for many people, which is why, in most cases, it gets pushed to the back of people’s minds and is something they feel can get done at some point ‘later on’.

The most difficult part for many of us is the thought of having to consider our own mortality, which of course, is a very difficult thing to do, but facing it head on will be the best thing for your family in the long-run, and once you’ve done it, you won’t have to think about it again! Unless your circumstances change along the way - which they may very well do.

There are specific situations that occur in life which make having a will in place essential, especially if you want to protect your loved ones and the assets you’ve worked so hard to attain.

Our guide below explains the importance of writing a will and provides 8 different situations (or milestones) when it would be the perfect time to make one - or indeed, review your existing will.

Why is it so important to have a will?

If you do not make a will during your lifetime, when you pass away, you will ‘die intestate’, which means that your estate (this includes your assets such as your home, possessions, money, etc.) will be shared out according to the UK’s Intestacy Rules. 

Dying intestate could result in your assets being given to the wrong people or someone that you wanted to leave a gift to may end up going without any inheritance due to these legal rules, and this is likely to cause distress and upset for your loved ones at a very difficult time.

To avoid this, you can easily write up your personal wishes in a legally-binding will, which will give you the confidence and peace of mind that your loved ones will be cared for and your belongings will go exactly where you want them to when you’re no longer here.

So when is the right time to start making one? Let’s take a look.

The perfect time to write a will - 8 situations

If you’re wondering when the best time to begin the will-writing process is, here are 8 life events that provide very good reasons to do so and may give you the nudge you need to get started.

1. You’ve turned 18

While it may seem way too early to write a will at 18-years-old, this is the legal age at which anyone is able to make one, provided they are of sound mind (have full mental capacity) and have not been forced to make one or are under the influence of anything such as drugs and alcohol.

Many young adults at 18 years of age already have assets that they wish to protect, whether that’s cash savings and/or a house. It’s likely that they also have loved ones that they want to protect should the worst happen to them, such as family members or even a child.

Whatever or whoever you want to protect, getting a will done at the age of 18 will give you the peace of mind that everything will be taken care of should the worst happen - and remember that death can happen to anyone, no matter how young you are!

Don’t forget about your will, though - you must remember to update your will whenever new events take place in your life, such as a marriage or birth, as it will be deemed invalid and useless if you don’t.

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2. Your financial circumstances have changed

For most people, their financial situation will change at different points in their life and if you gain more money for a particular reason, it’s important to protect it and ensure it will end up with the right person or people if you were to suddenly pass away.

For example, you may have:

  • Inherited money
  • Inherited property
  • Bought a property
  • Sold a property
  • Been promoted (or had a pay rise)
  • Started your own business

If you have financially gained as a result of any of the above, it’s important to think about protecting your finances so that they do not fall to the wrong hands in the event of your death.

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3. You have children (or you are expecting a baby)

If you were to die intestate, without a will, your children may end up receiving some of your estate anyway.

Generally, the spouse is legally entitled to £270,000 of an estate and anything left after this will be split between the spouse and children.

This, however, may mean that your children won’t be left with much, and if you have specific wishes regarding exactly what they will inherit from you, you must clearly include them in a legally-valid will.

In a will, you can also appoint a guardian, which is a very sensible thing to do in order to make sure the right people take over your children’s care in the event of your death.

Just remember to update your will as they get older as your wishes or their needs may change over time, so you’ll need to either add a codicil (if the changes are minor) or make a new will altogether (if the changes are significant).

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4. You have married, divorced or remarried

If you plan on getting married (or remarrying) or you are currently married, it’s important to know that any existing will that you may have previously written will become completely null and void, so you must make sure that you make a new one (this must be after the date of marriage or remarriage).

Similarly, if you separate or get a divorce, you will also need to amend your will to ensure your assets will be handed to the people you wish and not an ex-partner (if this is how you feel) - or, you may wish to still keep them in your will, but change what they will be entitled to on your death.

Learn more: Writing a Will After a Second Marriage to Protect Your Children & Estate

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5. You have pets

Have you ever wondered what may happen to your pet or pets if you were unexpectedly no longer here?

In a will, you can state exactly who you want to look after your pets in the event of your death or where you’d want them to go. You can also put some money aside to help your appointed person or organisation to cover the costs of pet food, grooming and vet care expenses.

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6. You have digital assets

Surprisingly, digital assets are often overlooked and many people forget to include them in their will.

Digital assets include the following:

  • Online accounts
  • Websites (domains)
  • Social media accounts
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Photos and videos stored in the Cloud

You can’t leave your digital assets in your will - instead, you will need to write a separate document with information regarding your accounts (such as the name of the company and not your login details) and keep it alongside your will. In your will, though, you can appoint someone who you wish to take care of your digital assets when you die.

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Read more: What happens to your digital assets when you die?

7. You want to clearly explain your funeral wishes

Most people don’t want their loved ones to have to deal with planning their funeral, so they write down their exact wishes in a will to help make things a little easier for their family when the time comes.

If you have specific song requests or you want a sentimental poem to be read out at your funeral, you can make it clear in your will.

If you want to leave money behind to help your family pay for the funeral costs, you can also clearly explain what funds are going to cover it, such as cash savings or a life insurance policy.

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8. You want to pass on specific gifts to specific people

You may have very valuable or sentimental items that you want to gift to certain loved ones, so you can explain this clearly in your will to prevent them from going into the wrong hands or being discarded as junk when you pass away.

If you want to leave a particular amount of money to a loved one, a will also enables you to do this and it will ensure they receive it. Without a will, this is unlikely to happen.

You might like: Leaving gifts in your will

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Put plans in place today - Don’t leave it too late

You can get started on your legally-binding will today with us at Wills.Services. Simply register to create a free account and complete it in your own time.

Our team of experts are on hand to help answer any questions and once you’re finished writing your will, they will check it over with a fine tooth comb to make sure everything is legally-binding, which will prevent all sorts of potential problems later on.

This way, you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones are cared for and your assets are protected.

Get started by tapping the button below or take a look at our useful guides for further information on other types of protection such as getting a Lasting Power of Attorney or Business Succession Planning.