Many young people think that making a Will is something only older people do. Whilst they may know that reaching their 18th birthday legally qualifies them to get a tattoo in the UK, only a handful are aware that it is also the legal age for making a Will. Both options will last a lifetime, but while you may live to regret one, you will never regret the other.
Many young people live together without being married or in a civil partnership. Some will have children. If one party to the couple dies without leaving a Will, the other will not automatically inherit. Not having a Will means that the State will determine what happens to your possessions after you are gone, who will inherit them and who will be responsible for administering your estate.
Without a Will, you have no say in who those people might be, and they might not necessarily be the ones you would choose. Making a Will can help you tie up any loose ends and provide security for a partner if, for example, you live in a rented property and only one of you is named on the Tenancy Agreement.
Find out more about what happens if you die without a Will in our article here.
With the vast array of material goods available and their relative affordability, young people own more material possessions than ever before from computers to gym equipment. If you don't think you own anything worth leaving, consider personal assets such as photographs, anything passed down to you through the family or items special to you from childhood or that you collected during your lifetime? There is no greater gift to leave a partner, friend or child than something that held sentimental value to you.
In this media and computer age, it is also important to consider what might happen to property stored on the Internet. Who will inherit your music collection or your photographs posted on Instagram? Who would you want to take care of your social media and email accounts? Are these things to just disappear or might someone else treasure or benefit from them?
Sadly, the loss of a loved one can cause disputes between even the closest families, particularly in the absence of a Will. Clear instructions can help to minimise disagreements over who is to inherit what. So, rather than viewing making a Will as a dark act to be avoided, you might want to consider it as something you do to make life after you are gone easier for the ones you love and ensure that children and partners are provided for.
There are important legal requirements to observe when making a Will. If it is not signed or witnessed correctly, it will not be valid. It will also establish who is to deal with the administration of your estate, who is to inherit and it also allows you, if you wish to do so, to make specific last requests.
There have been some unusual and quirky bequests made in Wills. Dogs have inherited millions of dollars. One group of friends was delightfully surprised by a legacy that specifically instructed them to blow it all on an alcohol-fuelled weekend in Europe. Shakespeare was in on it too: he left his “second best bed” to his wife while one man, who either didn't have any family or friends (or maybe didn't like them), randomly selected 70 strangers from the Lisbon telephone directory to inherit his wealth.
Whilst we are not suggesting a Will should be used flippantly, its main purpose is to carry out your last wishes, and these can be the out of the ordinary as well as the practical.
Making a Will is not all doom and gloom. It can pass on your sense of humour and leave one last legacy – a smile on the faces of those you loved and who shared your life. It is something you might only have to do once (unless circumstances change, such as getting married in which case it is important to update your Will), so there really is no better time to make a Will than when you are young.
If you would like to discuss making a Will, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Wills and Probate Solicitors. We provide a comprehensive service including advice when writing and updating your Will., support while dealing with a loved one’s estate (with or without a Will) and contentious probate guidance and representation.
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