Almost two out of three Britons have not made a Will and risk leaving a financial nightmare for family members when they die, warns the Law Society. Research coinciding with ‘Dying Awareness Week’, published in May 2014 from the Dying Matters Coalition, revealed that only 36 per cent of British adults say they have written a Will, while 83 per cent reported being uncomfortable discussing their dying wishes.
Those who die without a Will are said to die intestate and this can result in a complicated and long drawn-out battle for those left behind. When a person dies intestate, the State will direct who inherits, so their friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing.
A Will is always important but especially so for those who are not married or in a registered civil partnership – the law does not necessarily recognise cohabitants. People with children or dependents will need to make it clear who will look after or provide for them.
Law Society President, Nicholas Fluck, commented on the findings, saying:
‘It is extremely concerning that a significant number of people have not written a Will and made their final wishes clear. It is understandable that most of us are uncomfortable discussing our dying wishes, especially younger people, but you have nothing to lose and your loved ones can have everything to gain if you ensure your affairs are in order. The families of those who die intestate will often use their experience as a cautionary tale of struggling with banks, utility companies and property sales, for example. Don’t let that be your family. We welcome this insightful research from the Dying Matters Coalition and hope it encourages people to be more open about their wishes after death.’
A badly drafted Will can cause more problems than no Will at all, so the Law Society advises against using unregulated Will writers. All solicitors are subject to strict regulation to ensure that they deliver the best service to their clients, unlike unregulated Will writers. The Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Scheme (WIQs) provides a best practice quality mark for law firms and solicitors with respect to Wills and estate administration. Firms or solicitors who have received WIQs accreditation have demonstrated that they follow best practice procedures to meet the highest standards of technical expertise and client service in this area.
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