Do I need to make a will?

MY partner and I have lived together for ten years. Do we need to make a Will? You should make a Will, because otherwise you cannot guarantee that your belongings (your estate ) will be distributed as you want after you die. Even if your estate is not

MY partner and I have lived together for ten years. Do we need to make a Will?

You should make a Will, because otherwise you cannot guarantee that your belongings (your "estate") will be distributed as you want after you die. Even if your estate is not large, you can save your relatives and friends much anxiety following your death by making a Will. If you die without having made a Will, and you are not married but living with your partner, your partner has no automatic right to your estate. If you have no close relatives, then your estate may go to the crown - risking leaving your partner nothing. If you are married or in a registered civil partnership, your partner will still not necessarily inherit everything - it depends on the size of your estate and also whether your brothers, sisters or parents make a claim. Anyone over 18 can make a Will. Apart from being able to choose to whom you leave your estate, the following reasons are important:

1. Getting married/entering into a civil partnership generally invalidates any Will made before the wedding/civil partnership. 2. If you get divorced/separated/your civil partnership is dissolved, you may want others (rather than your spouse/partner) to receive the benefit of your estate. 3. If you are not married/in a civil partnership and have no children or close family, you may have friends and/or a charity whom you would prefer to benefit rather than distant relatives. 4. Only a legally adopted child is classed (in law) as a son or daughter. To inherit, stepchildren need to be named and provided for in the Will of their step-parent. 5. If you have children under 18 you could appoint specific individuals as "guardians" to control the money that is left to your children until they reach maturity. 6. You may wish to appoint specific persons whom you trust to administer your estate after your death ("executors"). 7. You may wish to structure you're Will so as to reduce your inheritance tax liability. 8. You can choose your own funeral arrangements and state if you wish to donate any part of your body for medical purposes.

There is no legal requirement to use a solicitor to make a Will. Creating a Will using a DIY kit is a cheap option, but is only suitable for simple situations. Completing the forms wrongly could mean your Will is invalid, so it should still be reviewed by an expert. This article describes the law in general terms. It is not intended to provide legal advice on specific situations and it should not be relied on as a source of legal advice. If you want FREE advice about Consumer Issues, Employment, Welfare Benefits, Housing or Debt, you can telephone Community Links, on (020) 7473 9640, to find out about their various advice services.

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