Writing or Updating a Will [UPDATED June 2022]

 30 June 2022
Writing or Updating a Will [UPDATED June 2022]

It’s a question we know we keep asking but - have you made a Will? And if you have made one, when did you last update it?

The pandemic saw a surge in interest in writing Wills, up by 76% on pre-pandemic figures. Many others may have delayed making their Will until they felt happy to go and visit a Will writer or a solicitor in person again.

Now that summer is here, it’s a good time to think about your Will and just get it done. As local Will writers for southern Hampshire and West Sussex, we’re here to help you make your wishes clear in a comprehensive, well-written Will.

10 top reasons to make a Will

Here are our top ten reasons why you need to make a Will:

  • You decide how your assets are shared – if you don't have a Will, the law says who gets what.
  • If you're an unmarried couple, you can make sure your partner is provided for.
  • If you're divorced, you can decide whether to leave anything to your former partner.
  • You can make sure you don't pay more Inheritance Tax than necessary.
  • Several people could make a claim on your estate when you die because they depend on you financially.
  • You may want to include a trust in your Will, to provide for young children or a disabled person, save tax, or simply protect your assets.
  • Your permanent home is not in the UK or you are not a British citizen.
  • You live here but you have overseas property.
  • You own all or part of a business.
  • You want peace of mind knowing your family, friends and favourite charities will benefit.

What should be in my Will?

Before you write your new Will, it's a good idea to think about:

  • Who you want to benefit from your Will
  • What property and possessions (assets) you have
  • How much money you have in various accounts
  • Who should look after any children under 18 years of age
  • Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)

What should a Will cover?

A new Will should include instructions for:

Your property or properties in the UK or overseas

  • Shares
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Personal possessions such as jewellery and cars
  • Family heirlooms you wish to pass on to specific people
  • Your business

All of these assets make up your estate. Making a Will ensures that when you die your estate is shared according to your wishes.

If you already have a Will, does it reflect your current circumstances and all the various assets that make up your estate? If not, you need to update it.

No such thing as a common law spouse

It is particularly important to make a Will if:

  • You are not married


  • You are not in a registered civil partnership (a legal arrangement that gives same-sex partners the same status as a married couple).

This is because the law does not automatically recognise cohabitants (partners who live together) as having the same rights as husbands, wives and registered civil partners. There is no such thing as a common law husband or wife in law. As a result, even if you've lived together for many years, your cohabitant may be left with nothing if you have not made a Will.

Provision for children in your Will

Everyone should have a Will, but it is even more important if you have children. A Will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a Will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you die.

Your Will should specifically include all your children, including those from a first marriage. It should also include children that are not biologically yours such as step-children or adopted children from a blended marriage.

Remarriage and your Will

If you remarry, you must make a new Will as the old Will becomes automatically invalid. This is very important, as if you die with no valid Will in England or Wales, the law will decide who gets what. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown.

Wills after divorce

A Will does NOT become invalid after you divorce. You should make a new Will when you get divorced, especially if you don’t want your ex-spouse to benefit and/or you have a new partner in your life. If you want certain people to benefit only, you should name them specifically, including children, in your new Will.

If you wish to include your ex-spouse and any of their relatives as beneficiaries, you should name them specifically in your Will. Ex-spouses and relatives would not normally be covered by the division of an estate if you died intestate (i.e. with an invalid Will).

Make a Will for peace of mind

Planning your finances and Will in advance should help you to ensure that, when you die, everything you own goes where you want it to.

In addition, planning ahead can give you the peace of mind that your loved ones are looked after financially when you are gone. At a difficult time for them emotionally, a clear Will with specific instructions helps remove the stress over current and future finances.

Wills and Inheritance Tax

When you make a Will, you can also make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you legally need to. It’s an essential part of your financial planning. If you leave everything to your spouse or registered civil partner there'll be no Inheritance Tax to pay, because they are classed as an exempt beneficiary. Or you may decide to use your tax-free allowance to give some of your estate to someone else or to a family trust. (Just to say, Scottish law on inheritance differs from English law.) See our recent article on IHT here.

To make sure you make the most of tax benefits in making a Will, consult your financial advisor, or call us on 023 9319 0377

Storing your Will

Once you've made your Will, it is important to keep it in a safe place and tell your executor, close friend or relative where it is. Your executors will need to be able to access it without asking for legal permission.

You can lodge your Will with a solicitor, or an alternative professional storage firm for safekeeping. Don’t put it in your bank safety deposit box, as according to the Law Society:

“The bank will not be able to open it until the executor gets legal permission, which won’t be granted without your Will.”

Executors for your Will

Executors are the people you name in your Will to carry out your wishes after you die. They will be responsible for all aspects of winding up your affairs after you’ve passed away such as:

  • Arranging your funeral
  • Notifying people and organisations that you’ve died
  • Collating information about your assets and liabilities
  • Dealing with any tax bills
  • Paying debts
  • Distributing your estate to your chosen beneficiaries

Being an executor is a major undertaking, especially for family members who would be grieving your loss at the time. You can appoint up to four executors, one of which can be a professional. Call us to discuss appointing a professional executor to help ease the burden of your passing, or see our article here.

Legacies and gifts

You can make all types of different gifts in your Will, known as legacies. For example, you may want to give an item of sentimental value to a particular person, or perhaps a fixed cash amount to a friend or favourite charity. You can then decide who you would like to receive the rest of your estate and in what proportions.

Review your Will every five years

It is advisable to review your Will every five years and after any major change in your life, such as getting separated, married or divorced, having a child or moving house. Any change must be by Codicil, (an addition, amendment or supplement to a Will) or by making a new Will.

Panthera Estate Planning - your local Will writing service

At Panthera Estate Planning, our light, airy offices in Cowplain are open again for in-person Will writing, Will signing and Will updating services. We’re five minutes from the A3, easy to find with plenty of local, open air parking, so you can visit without needing to go into the centre of town.

You can also make a day of it as we’re just 25 mins from the lovely beaches on Hayling Island, the Historic Dockyards at Portsmouth, Porchester Castle or Port Solent Marina for lunch!

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To put it in a nutshell, Panthera are a very professional company which also believes in the personal touch.

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