The New Year is the perfect time to make a Will. People in their 20s often think they don’t need one yet but there is no need to wait. Below are 10 good reasons to make a Will, whatever your age or circumstances.
1. To provide for younger family members
If you die without making a Will, the ‘rules of intestacy’ apply which set out who inherits your estate. Broadly, this is your closest blood relative. While you are in your 20s, this is most likely to be your parents, who would get half each. Even if you don’t have very much, you may want this to go to younger brothers and sisters or perhaps to nieces and nephews. The only way to be certain this will happen is to make a Will.
2. To make sure your boyfriend or girlfriend gets something
Your unmarried partner will not benefit under the intestacy rules, even if you are living together and even if you are engaged. If you want your partner to benefit on your death, you will need to make a Will.
3. To keep your affairs secret from your parents by naming an executor
When you die, a ‘personal representative’ is appointed to collect in your assets and distribute them to your beneficiaries. If you don’t have a Will, the law states that your personal representative is your closest living relative. When you are in your 20s this is likely to be your parents. If you don’t want your parents going through your papers and looking under your mattress, you can use your Will to name the executor of your choice.
4. To provide for your pets
Pets, such as cats, dogs and even snakes are covered by the legal definition of chattels (personal possessions) and so can be left in your Will in the same way as anything else. You can therefore have a special legacy in your Will to bequeath your furry (or scaly) friend to someone suitable. You can even leave a sum of money to help care for your pet.
5. To nominate a guardian for your children
Wills are not just about leaving cash and property. You can also use your Will to appoint a guardian for your children. If both your child’s parents are dead, your guardian will have parental responsibility for them while they are under 18.
6. To give your friends something to remember you by
Even if you don’t have a house or a large pot of cash, you almost certainly have things that are important to you, such as jewellery or musical instruments. You can use your Will to make sure these items are given to people who will cherish them.
7. To get it over with
Your Will doesn’t just deal with what you own now – it will deal with whatever you have when you die. If you make a Will today and win the lottery next year, your new-found wealth will pass according to the terms of your Will. You can even provide for children you don’t have yet. However, it is advisable to review your Will every so often to make sure it still works for you. Also, remember that a Will is revoked by marriage.
8. To set out your funeral wishes
People often use their Will to set out their funeral wishes, for example if they want to be buried or cremated. If you don’t trust your parents not to play Enya at your funeral then your Will is a good place to set out exactly what you do want.
9. To leave money to charity
If you have a relatively small bank balance, it might not be a life-changing amount to leave to your family but it might make a big difference to a charity. You can use your Will to leave some or all of your money to a charity which is close to your heart.
10. If you own a property jointly
If you own a property with someone else, it could be very important indeed that you make a Will. This is particularly the case if you own the property as ‘tenants in common’, which means that your share of the property does not pass automatically to your co-owner on your death. If the rules of intestacy apply, then your closest relatives will get your share – probably your parents. If you want your co-owner to inherit then you must either make a Will or make sure you own as ‘joint tenants’. It is also worth thinking about life insurance to deal with any inheritance tax or outstanding mortgage.