One of Harrogate’s leading experts in wills, trusts and probate believes National Write a Will Week, a campaign running throughout this week, is playing a crucial role in educating people about the problems faced when people die without leaving a will.
Julie Jewers, head of Berwins Life, the law firm’s Legal 500 recommended wills trusts and probate team, said more than two thirds of the UK population don’t have a will and many more are not fully aware of the implications of having no will or one that has been poorly drafted.
Julie Jewars explained:
When there’s no will, intestacy rules come into play and assets are divided according to law rather than personal wishes.
In the case of unmarried couples, when one partner dies the other will not inherit anything unless there is a will specifically naming them as a beneficiary and even married couples shouldn’t assume everything will automatically go to the spouse.
A recent survey found that parents are hoping to leave legacies in the region of £300,000 to their children – about three times the amount they inherited from their own parents – so it’s important to have a clearly written, valid will.
Sadly, many people die without leaving a will and that can cause unnecessary distress and expense for those left behind.
She also stressed that it was important to make sure the wording of a will was unambiguous and had been thought out properly and the legal implications discussed with an expert.
Julie Jewars added:
Although everyone is free to write whatever they want in their will, the contents can be contested and if the courts feel the will is unfair they can intervene to make adjustments to it.
There have also been many cases where the wording has been interpreted in different ways and this kind of situation has been known to cause serious family rifts and stress.
Ms Jewers said cost was often a major factor in deciding not to write a will but she explained that most solicitors offered fixed fees for will writing and could also provide information about charity will writing services.