Astonishingly, 55% of UK adults do not have a Will. This means that over half of the population has not safeguarded their future wishes.

Without a Will, you will not have a choice about what happens to your estate when you die. Instead, the state allocates it to the next of kin which is usually a husband and wife. However, changing patterns of family life, for example, cohabiting couples who have not gotten married, and the ever-increasing second families have meant that loved ones (such as an unmarried surviving partner) who you wish to be a beneficiary might lose out. Consequently, the change in family structure makes it even more important to have a Will in place which can address the potential complexity of your arrangements.

Furthermore, it also allows for estranged family members to dispute and potentially has a claim to part of your estate.

Preparing a Will ensures that children are provided for which is especially important, for example, if you have step-children as they would not receive anything if you have not made your wishes clear in your Will. Plus, you can name charities, friends and others, if you wish, and you can also record details, such as personal possessions allocated to family or friends and funeral arrangements, that you would like carried out.

If you have never made a Will or have not looked at it in a long time it would be prudent to write a Will or make sure it still reflects your wishes and circumstances. If you do not prepare a Will for the future it could leave your family and friends nothing but acrimony, confusion and potentially costly legal battles. If you already have a Will, you may not need to pay for a new one if only small changes are required and instead you can pay for an edit called a ‘Codicil’.

Do you need to prepare a new Will?

If your Will needs to change considerably, you will need to start again. A simple Will drawn up by a Will professional can cost between £200 and £300. This could cost more for a couple, depending on your location. The more complex a Will is the more it will cost. You will also need to clearly state that any previous older Wills or Codicils are revoked and destroy any previous versions you possess. It is also important to let your executor know where your new Will is being stored, so they know where to find it when the time comes.

So, which big life events should you update your Will for?

1. Getting married – any existing wills are revoked when you marry in England and Wales (not Scotland)

2. Getting divorced – your married Will isn’t automatically revoked but your exes won’t benefit in England or Wales

3. Having children or grandchildren (and step-children) – you may want to include them as beneficiaries

4. Buying a house – the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your lifetime, it’s good to mention – especially when downsizing

5. Coming into some money – say who you want to leave it to

6. Losing a loved one – you may need to update a beneficiary or executor