Buying a house? Have you made a will?

In recent conversation with my colleague, we noted that few conveyancers [1] talk in any detail about whether a person has made a will or not. Few conveyancers actually talk about tenancy in common either. Of course it’s all there in the fine detail, somewhere in the terms of engagement, or in the closing letter that no-one really needs.

That makes sense – it’s stressful buying a house. Who needs to think about dying as well? And who can afford to make a will?

But hang on a minute – that house will be worth hundreds of thousands – the most valuable asset you own. And you either don’t know or don’t care what happens to its ownership when you die? Surely you should find out? Make a plan?

Well yes. And lets be honest, since there is no such thing as a common-law spouse, no such thing as automatically inheriting from your partner, or even automatic entitlement to all that your spouse (or civil partner) owned, it really should be looked into.

And second marriages with children on both sides? Yes! go make that will.

[1] (the sort of lawyer that deals with buying and selling houses here in the UK)

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Law Society research: millions of Britons have no will – The Law Society

Law Society research: millions of Britons have no will – The Law Society.

 

It is, as we have said for a long time, the exception rather than the rule.  Somewhat horrifying to think that over two thirds of us do not have wills.

I’m dealing with some intestacies at the moment, and practically speaking, although we can deal with things amicably  (hopefully) within a family, the extra work involved, and the trauma for the family of deciding who is going to do what, who is going to be responsible for making difficult decisions, and the fact that no-one is immediately able to do things on behalf of the estate is tragic.  For less than £200, the client could have saved hours of worry, hours of legal time, so much angst and family difficulties, and prevented the delay in administration – if there had been a will, the house could be on the market now – the estate agents will not risk signing a contract with someone who may not be the administrator, or they might not get their money back.

That is just the problem – Lasting Powers of Attorney are needed in lifetime to make life easier and better for the living who are vulnerable.  Wills are your last chance to make things easier for those you leave behind.  And if you are not a single person with no spouse or children, or grandchildren, then there are all those who are depending on you.  And wishing that you had appointed guardians, and made things clear for you.