Most of us have family that we would like to leave money to when we die. Many of us own property either to live in or that we rent out at a profit and a lot of us are in business, either on our own or with other people.
And we all have CDs or old toys or golf clubs and the like that we would want to leave to a favourite relative or friend.
So why have so few of us made arrangements for our money and other possessions to pass to the people we want to receive them in as efficient a manner as possible? Why do so few of us make a will?
The most common excuse I hear when I ask people why they haven’t got a will is that they just haven’t got round to it. The other excuse is that it doesn’t matter because everything they have will go to their partner when they die.
Unfortunately that’s not the way it works. In Scotland, for example, there is a strict system in place – the Laws of Intestacy – that govern who gets what when someone dies. Your partner, if you are married or in a civil partnership, might get some or all of your estate, but they might not depending on who else you leave behind.
And if you live with someone but are not married or in a civil partnership then they might end up with nothing. This common idea of ‘we lived together’ or ‘common-law spouse’ doesn’t really hold much water in legal circles.
The other thing is that if you have a will it is likely to make the whole process of distributing your estate much speedier after your death. If you leave no will then solicitors may have to get involved to establish just who is entitled to the assets that were in your estate, and this is likely to take time. It will also cost money, and this will have the result of diminishing the assets that are eventually left to be shared amongst any beneficiaries once they have been properly identified.
It’s not expensive to make a will, and it’s not complicated so if you haven’t done it yet then you should start now!
A version of this article appeared in The Daily Record in September this year.