Your Guide to Your First Will and Why You Need One

6 April 2020

By Adele Bebbington-Plant , Head of Wills, Trusts & Estates 

Why it is in your best interests to write a Will
There are many advantages to having
a Will, the main one being that when you die your Will will ensure that your money, property and possessions are shared out in accordance with your

In addition, making a Will allows you to decide who will be responsible for administering your estate (your executors) after your death. Without a Will
in place people who you would not wish to have deal with your affairs may be entitled to take on the role.

Why you should make a Will
By making a Will your assets will be shared as you intended.
Losing a loved one is a distressing time and you will not want to make things worse for those you leave behind because they miss out on inheriting
a share of your money, possessions or property.

The effects of dying without making a Will
If you die without making a will it is called
“an intestacy” or “dying intestate”. The intestacy rules are very rigid and present some difficulties. Some common areas that cause concern are:

Co-habitees/couples who are not married or in a civil partnership do not inherit under the intestacy rules. There is no such thing as a “common law spouse”
for the purposes of inheritance.

When a spouse/civil partner dies, depending on the value of the estate the surviving spouse/civil partner will either take everything or will be required
to share the estate with the deceased’s children. This also applies even when spouses/civil partners are separated but not yet divorced at the time
of death. This can mean that the surviving spouse/civil partner is left less than they need, or that children miss out.

For people with children or grandchildren who have not made a Will, how much they receive can very much depend on which country in the UK the deceased
was living. All this uncertainty can be avoided by making a Will.

Under the law of ‘bona vacantia’ those who die without making a Will and leave behind no close relatives will have their estate go to the Crown. If a Will
had been made the estate could have been left to a non-relative (such as a close friend) or a favourite good cause such as a charity.

Inheritance Tax for people who die without leaving a Will can be higher. This can be avoided by making a Will.

If you die without a Will who inherits?
If you die intestate, strict rules apply. Spouses/Civil
partners/blood relatives inherit in a fixed order of priority. Grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even later descendants can inherit. Siblings,
nephews and nieces can also inherit, and the order of entitlement may not be as you would wish or intend.

All of the above demonstrates that making a Will is the only way you can be assured that your estate will be shared out as you intended following your

For more information or to arrange to make a Will please contact a member of our Wills, Trusts & Estates Department on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.