We spend our lives working to provide for ourselves and our loved ones. You may have property (in the UK or overseas), shares, savings and investments, along with your personal possessions. All of these assets are known as your 'estate’.

Making a will ensures that when you die, your estate is shared according to your wishes. Everyone should have a will, but it’s even more important to write one if you have children. So what do you need to consider?

I have children under 18

If you die unexpectedly without a will and have children under the age of 18, others can make decisions about who’ll take care of them and manage their finances. A will allows you to name the people you and your children trust to look after their wellbeing. Once these wishes are stated clearly in your will, you can be sure your children will be properly protected.

I have children over 18

If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, which governs who will inherit your property when you’re gone. The rules state that all children are to receive their inheritance outright at the age of 18, regardless of their financial circumstances or their levels of maturity. The rules also say that your estate will be divided up equally between all your children, which may not be what you want. 

A will can ensure that your adult children get the maximum benefit from their inheritance. It may be that you want them to inherit at age 21 or 25 rather than 18. Alternatively, you may prefer that they had a share of their inheritance at age 18 and receive the remainder at a later date. 

Writing a will also ensures that money or other gifts given to your children during your lifetime can be taken into account. This can help to minimise any disputes between your children after you’ve gone.

I have stepchildren

If you’d like to provide for a stepchild in the event of your death, you need to state this clearly in your will. Otherwise, they will not inherit any of your property or possessions. The Rules of Intestacy were created back in 1925 and don’t reflect the diversity of today’s relationships – in fact, they ignore stepchildren entirely.

I have children from previous relationship/s

If you’re not married or in a registered civil partnership with your new partner and you die without a will, all your property and possessions will be inherited by your children. This means that your new partner will be left unprovided for. 

If you’ve remarried or entered a new registered civil partnership and you die without a will, your new spouse/partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your assets outright. This may leave your children with little or no inheritance. By writing a will, you can make provisions for your new spouse/partner and your children, and avoid any unnecessary disputes after your death.

I don't have children

If you die without a will and have no children, your spouse inherits everything. If not married, your parents split the estate. With no parents or spouse, siblings (or their children) inherit. Distant relatives may come next, and if you have none, the state takes everything.  To avoid this uncertainty and ensure your wishes are followed, creating a will is highly recommended.

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