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There are many misconceptions surrounding Wills, here we take a look at the most common:-
Myth 1 "I have a common law spouse so everything will automatically go to them”
Contrary to popular belief common law marriages are not legally recognised in England and Wales.
If an unmarried person dies Intestate (without a valid will), Intestacy Rules dictate that the Estate passes to their children. If the person has no children then the Estate is divided between family members.
It is also important to note that "children" does not include automatically step-children, therefore, should you wish to make provision for a step child this must be specifically mentioned in your Will.
Myth 2 “I had a Will drawn up several years ago so I can just amend it myself”
Once a Will has been signed it cannot be edited without ensuring specific legal requirements are met. Existing Wills can be amended by a separate legal document called a Codicil, however, this can be problematic is not drawn correctly and so in many cases a new Will should be prepared.
We suggest reviewing your Will every five years or so. It may be that your Will still reflects your wishes, in which case it can continue gathering dust in your drawer! On the other hand, your circumstances may have changed, due to a death, birth or marriage for example and so your Will needs to reflect your new arrangements.
Myth 3 “Getting married or remarried won’t affect my Will”
When you get married, any Wills you have previously written become invalid. Your Will is not invalid following divorce, however, any benefit/gifts to your former spouse will be read as if they have predeceased you. We recommend that anyone who is going through a divorce or a separation makes or updates their Will to reflect their change in circumstances.
Myth 4 " In my Will I can appoint someone to make important decisions if I lose physical or mental capacity”
A Will only comes into force upon a person’s death. Should you wish to make arrangements for a person to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime then you will need a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Myth 5 “I have a Power of Attorney already so I don’t need a Will"
Powers of Attorney are only valid during a person’s lifetime. An Attorney does not have the power to act as Executor of the deceased’s Estate unless they had been appointed in a Will.
Myth 6 “My debts will die with me”
Any debts that you leave when you die will need to be paid from your Estate. Once debts have been paid then the remainder of your Estate is distributed in accordance with the wishes expressed in your Will.
Myth 7 “I don’t need to make a Will because my spouse will receive everything anyway”
It’s a common misconception that if you die without a valid Will then your spouse will automatically inherit the whole of your Estate. The reality is more complex particularly if you have children and depending on the value of the Estate.
Myth 8 "Wills are something that only old people need to think about”
Sadly, we don't have a crystal ball to see what the future holds. Having a Will in place allows you to plan ahead should the worst happen. A Will enables you to ensure that your Estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. It can also offer you and your family the peace of mind that matters will be dealt with should you pass away.
At Ramsdens, we offer a specialist and affordable will writing service. To speak to someone about updating your Will or making a Will for the first time call us on 01484 821 500, text LAW to 67777 or email email@example.com .