— Sofia Lagergren is a solicitor at McKinnells in Lincoln, specialising in family law. She deals with issues concerning contact with and residence of children, divorce, civil partnership and financial issues following the breakdown of relationships.
“I made a will that was so wonderful, I wanted to kill myself immediately”, is a line from a Hugh Grant film that I saw recently. Chances are most people are not going to get quite so excited about sitting down and making their will, but in reality the sheer relief from getting it over with is something that is often quite palpable. Yes, really!
Let’s be honest, making a will means you have to acknowledge there is a very slight possibility you will not be around forever. Few people want to think about their death, it may be inevitable but why spoil life right now by thinking about it. It could be because of this that far too few people think about making a will.
We make excuses for not getting round to it; tell ourselves that we have plenty of time; don’t think we have sufficient assets to make it worth while; think it will be expensive or it will be a hassle.
Everyone makes excuses why not to make a will, before they finally get round to making one; myself included. However, as a will affects others, then does it not just come down to selfishness? What we are all saying is that we won’t be around so it does not matter what mess the absence of a will creates, it won’t be our problem to sort out.
It will be someone else’s problem to deal with though.
We all have some assets, it may be a house, a car, money in the bank, life insurance or an inheritance. It’s never as much as we would like, but sufficient enough and we would want to leave it to those we love. Having a will makes sure this happens. Not making a will means that intestacy rules kick in. These ancient laws have been around since Victorian times and they reflect that age, which means that they don’t recognise cohabitation.
Picture a fairly typical situation, you marry and have children but then the marriage breaks down. You split up and meet someone else. You set up home together and may even start a second family. You know you ought to make a will but there is always something else to do. You still think like that right up until the time you have a car accident or a heart attack and by then it is too late.
Your loved ones (of course) will be grieving for quite some time but on top of that they will have to come to terms with the fact that, without a will, most if not all of your assets will go to your un-divorced ex-wife because of the way the intestacy rules apply. To get anything they are going to have to go to court and argue they were dependants and you can’t do much to help them from your cloud.
This is just one example, there are many other situations I see in my work where making a will could have avoided a lot of heartache, distress and expense.
A will made through a solicitor, who carries multi-million pound insurance cover against errors, unlike unregulated will writers, will cost less than a good night out. So let’s all start off the New Year with a resolution that is easy to keep and has real benefits. Let’s make a will and then forget about it and get on with the enjoyment of living.