Like so many people, I always said “I’ll get round to doing my will.” It’s one of those things we tend to put off. Here are some of the reasons we may do this.
Reasons why people don't have wills
“I don’t have much to leave in a will.”
So many people think that wills are for the wealthy only. This is not the case. It is less about how much you have to leave people and more about giving people simple and clear instructions at an overwhelming and difficult time of grief. We don’t want family members agonising over our funeral wishes or division of simple assets. It’s our responsibility to make it simple for them.
Many of us find the process overwhelming and complicated. We have to consider executors, who are the individuals you choose to literally “execute” your wishes and manage your estate for you, distributing assets and paying people who need to be paid. We also have to consider beneficiaries, the people who we will leave monetary or physical assets to. It’s the ultimate admin job that would even go to the bottom of the admin pile.
“It’s expensive and complicated.”
If we have a simple family structure and a relatively straightforward asset list, we may be reluctant to pay solicitors fees to draw up a will. It can also feel incredibly inaccessible, jargon-filled and lacking digital capability – which we are so often used to nowadays. We picture the stuffy old lawyer’s office, fees racking up and being made to feel like we don’t really understand what it is we are deciding.
“I already have one.”
We may think we’ve nailed it if we have a will, yet so many circumstances trigger the need to update a will. In particular, any births, deaths or marriages in your immediate family, changes in relationship circumstances, a wish to give to a new charity or even a family relationship breakdown. On average, it is recommended that we update our wills every 5 years to capture these life events that can impact our wishes or the function of our existing will.
We may be superstitious that if we do our will, it means we will die soon. I’ve been in this camp, not wanting to confront my own mortality. In fact, The Financielle Playbook was born out of my worry that if anything were to happen to me, my children wouldn’t have me there as a step by step money guide. For years I put it off but when the pandemic hit, I knew this financial wellness guide was needed more than ever and so I finally put pen to paper. It was time to do the same with my will.
Legacy Week is for us, in memory of her.
I need to also be transparent that the devastating passing of a friend recently compounded my desperation to finally do a will. A friend of mine, beautiful inside and out, was the inspiration for Legacy Week. She sadly passed away late last year, without a will.
She was single, with a significant estate made up of property, finances and a lifetime of beautiful personal possessions such as art and photographs collected from around the world. She left behind a loving father, brother and sister who were extremely shocked to experience her sudden passing, as well as a group of close friends who are still in shock that they will never go out to a gorgeous dinner with her again, or even miss a flight to Paris with her due to having an extra glass of champagne in the BA lounge.
What later transpired was that our wonderful, successful and inspirational friend did not have a will. Fine. The rules of intestacy, which is basically the law that steps in when someone doesn’t have a will, will step in and she will be able to at least leave a legacy to the three family members in her life. How wrong we were. Our friend, despite being separated for 8 years, was still legally married. Her “Ex”, in a long-term relationship with another woman (complete with child) – stepped in to claim the entire estate.
There are no words that can describe how the above infuriates me. Her family will never get her back and they are grieving quietly and respectfully. The fact that they have no legal right to even her photographs, nevermind the assets she worked so hard for, is devastating for her friends to watch. Instead, a man from her past is able to legally claim everything she owned for himself.
This shows exactly why you need to do or re-do your will if you are recently married or separated. It’s not only the physical assets such as her beautiful property, it’s also the same for many insurance policies and pensions. If you do not note specifically who you wish them to transfer to upon your death, they will also follow the law and if you are separated but still married, this passes to your ex partner.
We cannot change what happened to our friend – the law was followed. But we can, in her memory, inspire some of the millions of people without a will in the UK to make one and ensure their wishes are followed. If we can stop one more family and friendship group from going through that added layer of stress and pain, then this will be part of our friend’s legacy.
You need to do a will. Now.
So please, I urge you. Connect with our Legacy Week partner, Bequest, and make a free will by CLICKING HERE.
I have done so already – I am proud to announce that I now finally have a will. And I’m crying a little writing this. I hope my friend is proud of me and I hope whoever has to handle my affairs after I’ve passed will appreciate this act and the clarity it will hopefully give them.
So why Bequest?
We’ve already worked through why so many people don’t put a will in place and so when I was looking for a provider, I was determined to find a provider that understood this and had a product that helped us overcome the obstacles.
This product has long been missing. The will-writing space has been targeting consumers with out-dated branding and alienating younger generations. Also with their entry-level free first will, Bequest has helped ease people into the will process and not alienated users with high fees.
The process took me 8 minutes and it felt literally as if I was recording what was in my head. Bequest eased me into what is quite an emotive thought-process with simple questions, familiar emojis and an easy form to complete. The key things you need to reflect on when completing your will are:
Who are going to be your executors? There’s a simple video explaining what executors are during the form filling in process, but essentially these are the people who will execute i.e. carry out the instructions in your will.
Who are going to be your beneficiaries? This is the person or the people who will benefit i.e. inherit part or all of your estate. The Bequest flow lets you elect back-up beneficiaries in the event that your chosen ones pass before you.
If you have children, do you have chosen guardians? These are the people you would like to look after your children if anything happens to you.
What assets do you have? If you have the Financielle net worth tracker, this document will really help you fill this part in quite quickly. You simply need a list of your financial assets such as property, pensions, insurances, savings accounts and investments.
Your funeral wishes: Ultimately, deciding the key burial vs cremation question is a fundamental one which should not be left to your loved ones.
How do I feel?
It was humbling to complete, as you imagine a world without you in it. Who will be here when you’re gone? What will they think as they’re working through this will? But the Bequest process made it feel straightforward and not as daunting as I thought it may be.
Next I will be reflecting on my non-financial legacy: what do I want to leave behind of me? What knowledge did I give? What impact did I have, both on my loved ones, my wider circles and my wider community? Have I told my loved ones what they mean to me?
Something tells me I may need a glass of wine or two for this thought process.
For the will-writing part though, I can only thank Bequest for producing a product that provided just what I needed to get me over the line.
If you are in the “no will so far” camp, please don’t put this job at the bottom of the admin pile and make sure that you do your bit to look after your legacy and the family you leave behind.
And to our beautiful friend, gone too soon, I hope we all do you proud by telling your story and inspiring people to take action and do a will.