It is important to make a Will and keep it up-to-date.
A Will lets you specify exactly who inherits from your estate (and in what proportion), and is especially important if you have dependants. A Will also eases the administrative burden facing family and friends at what is already a difficult time.
If you die without a Will, who inherits what from your estate is determined (in a prescriptive manner) by the ‘rules of intestacy’, which can create significant issues for loved ones. Many wrongly assume that the rules of intestacy align with what they would want anyway. But unmarried couples, for example, have no automatic right to inherit upon the death of a partner: often assets go to parents instead, potentially exacerbating their own IHT position. Even married couples usually find the rules of intestacy far from ideal, so there is no substitute for making a Will.
It is also necessary to review your Will regularly, to ensure it continues to reflect your circumstances and your wishes, and takes into account relevant legislative changes. At the same time, if you do not have one already, you should also consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), to ensure that those you trust most have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf should your mental health deteriorate (and that some estate planning can still be done, if appropriate, even after you lose mental capacity).
If you are looking to set up or review your Will or LPA, we can make a referral to trusted, third-party estate planning solicitors.