IF you are among the 60 per cent of the adult UK population that does not have a will, then perhaps this should be top of your agenda. Samantha Lowe, solicitor and mediator at Concentus in Middlesbrough, has more than a decade of experience in dealing with disputes arising from people not having made a will, or having made a badly drafted one. She explains why having a will is essential, given today’s modern family set up.

“It is estimated that around two thirds of adults in the UK do not have a will. If you die without a will, you die intestate and ancient rules from 1925, known as the Rules of Intestacy, will determine who gets what.

“Although some people see wills as morbid, it could not be further from the truth. Getting your affairs in order is responsible and selfless and means your loved ones are not left with a mess when the time comes, as long as it is done properly and with the right advice.

“In the modern world, which consists of unmarried partners, second families, carers, close friends, step-children and all those in between who you wish to inherit something from you, dying intestate means that those people will not benefit from your estate.

“The flip side is that those who you may want to disinherit, such as the estranged child who you haven’t seen for 30 years or the difficult sibling who you haven’t spoken to in a long time, may, however, inherit from your estate if you die without a will.

“So why not take some control? Take advice, be open and frank with your solicitor about your family set up, who you want to inherit, and who you do not wish to benefit, and make your will.

“By leaving a will you can:

• Benefit those you intend to benefit;

• Appoint people who you trust to administer your estate;

• Appoint guardians to look after your children;

• Be as tax efficient as possible;

• Explain what you would like to happen at your funeral;

• Have peace of mind that you have done everything you can to. ensure your loved ones experience the simplest of processes when it comes to your affairs.

“Making a will doesn’t necessarily mean it will be completely smooth sailing. For example, an estranged child may come out of the woodwork, despite being disinherited, and bring a claim against your estate. However, if you have taken advice from a solicitor, been open and frank with them and considered what might happen in those circumstances, then you will have done as much as you can to protect your family and loved ones when the time comes.”

For advice about wills or looking for mediation in will disputes, contact Samantha on 07940-231652 or email sam.lowe@concentus-mediation.co.uk

  • This Legal Expert column has been provided in conjunction with the Law Society.