Understanding the Importance of Writing a Will and Registering a Will

This year, in the months of March and October, it is Free Wills Month. Free Wills Month brings together a group of charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge.

Leaving a gift to charity in your Will costs nothing now, however, will ensure that the fantastic work of charities continues.
So, why should you write a Will or update your Will? We spoke with Paul Britton, of Britton and Time Solicitors who recently appeared on This Morning, to answer some of the most common questions.

1. Why do I need to write a Will?
Writing a Will is essential to ensure that your assets and possessions are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Having a Will in place offers your loved one’s certainty and reassurance that your wealth is distributed exactly as you want it to be after your passing.

2. What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you pass away without a Will (intestate), the law dictates how your estate Will be distributed under what is known as the Intestacy Rules. If you’re married your partner will inherit the first £322,000 along with all your personal possessions and anything above that will be split in half; one-half to be given to your spouse and one-half given to your children in equal shares. If you’re not married it will follow your bloodline, passing to your children, grandchildren, parents or siblings. If you die intestate and have no family to inherit, your estate will be passed to the Crown.

3. When should you write a Will?
The key times to write a Will are when you reach significant milestones, or your wealth accumulates. Getting married, having children, and buying property are all key times when you should write a Will or update your Will if you already have one.

4. How often should I review my Will?
It’s recommended to review your Will periodically, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of children or acquisition of new assets. Updating your Will ensures that it remains current and accurately reflects your wishes.

5. What should you include in your Will?
A Will should outline how you want your assets, property and possessions to be distributed after your death. It should also designate guardianship for any children under the age of 18 and specify any other final wishes, such as funeral arrangements.

6. Is a Will expensive?
No, typically a Will costs in the region of £300 – £400. That being said, multiple incentives run across the year that enable people to get their Wills for free. The Free Wills Network and Free Wills Month have specific timings when you can contact them to receive a free Will and many charities offer free Wills throughout the year.

7. What is The National Will Register, and why should I register my Will with them?
The National Will Register is the UK’s Will registration and Certainty Will Search Service. It allows individuals to register the location of their Will. Registering your Will with them ensures that it can be easily located by your loved ones when needed.

8. Can anyone view my Will?
Anyone can search the National Wills Register to see if a Will has been registered and its location however, the contents of the Will cannot be accessed or viewed on the National Will Register. Once you pass away, your executors are the only people who can access and view your Will as these are the individuals who are listed to execute your wishes. Following the grant of probate, your Will becomes public access and will be available for anyone to read on the Probate Registry, which is separate to the National Wills Register.

9. Legally, do I have to register my Will with the National Will Register?
Registering your Will with The National Will Register is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended and best practice for law firms. It provides an extra layer of security and ensures that your Will can be easily located when necessary. In addition, it aids the probate work as when a match is found the holding firm is normally notified within 24 hours.

10. How do I register my Will with The National Will Register?
You can register your Will directly with The National Will Register on their website or through your solicitor when your Will is finalised. Your solicitors will guide you through the registration process. Very little information is needed for the National Will Register, it does not require a copy of the Will, it just records the location where the Will is held.