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Dying Matters Week: Why making a will matters more than you think

By Linda Firth

Published In: Wills and Probate

It’s Dying Matters Week, a week that is about encouraging open conversations about death, dying, and bereavement. It’s a heavy topic to talk about and can feel like a lot but there is a way to simplify end of life matters, and it comes in the form of a simple document: your will.

Photo of  multigenerational family with newborn baby

Picture it like this, you're sitting in your favourite place, sipping a warm drink, surrounded by all the things you love. Now, take a moment to think about what happens to all those treasures and bits of your life when you're not around anymore. It's not the most cheerful thought, but it's a reality we all face.

First off, let's tackle the myth that making a will is just for the rich, it's not! Whether you've got a vast fortune or a modest collection of trinkets, having a will ensures that everything is sorted out smoothly and fairly when you're no longer here to do it yourself.

Why is a will so important?

  1. It protects your loved ones: A will lets you give the things you pictured above to the people and causes that matter to you. It means your loved ones are provided for and they get the things you want them to have.
  2. It avoids intestacy laws: Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws, which may not be the way you had hoped, for example if you’ve no one to benefit then your estate goes to The Crown, but you may have preferred to leave it to dogs.
  3. Naming guardians for children: If you’ve children under 18, a lets you appoint guardians who will care for them in the event of your passing. However in some cases this may be more difficult for example blended families, and this is where having a wills solicitor can help make sure your children go where you want.
  4. Minimising family disputes: Family arguments are inevitable but do you want to start one when you’re gone? With a will you make sure that people know what you wanted for them leaving less room for confusion

How to get started

  1. Identify your assets and debts: Make a list of your assets, including property, investments, and personal belongings, as well as any outstanding debts. At Switalskis we also talk about things that have sentimental value as well as financial value, so that you can pass your memories on too. It’s always good to picture the things you love when you think about a will.
  2. Choose your beneficiaries: Decide how you would like your things to be divided and if there are any charities or organisations you would like to donate money or things to.
  3. Appoint an executor: This is an important job in the probate process so make sure you choose someone you can rely on. They’ll administer your estate and ensure that your wishes are carried out as you set out in your will.
  4. Bring this to a wills solicitor: While it's possible to create a will on your own, consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer can ensure that your will is legally sound and comprehensive leaving no room for error.

Addressing common worries

  1. Cost: While there may be upfront costs associated with creating a will, the peace of mind it provides outweighs the financial investment. By working with professionals you minimise the risk of paying multiple times to correct any errors as they can’t be registered unless they’re correct and changes are an extra cost.
  2. Complexity: Estate planning is daunting, but with the guidance of legal professionals, the process is straightforward and manageable. We have these conversations daily and know how to have them sensitively and what needs to be covered. If needed we’ll also come to a place you feel comfortable to make the conversation easier.
  3. Updating your will: Life circumstances change, so it's important to review and update your will regularly to reflect any major life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children.

We understand that talking about death and making a will isn't exactly a light-hearted conversation but with the right support it is an easy one. Our wills and probate team are experts in this conversation, and they have it many times a day, so they know how to help you have it. Some people even describe the process as cathartic.

By opening up conversations about death and dying, we're not just preparing for the inevitable, we're also embracing the life we have. Meaning we can leave behind a legacy that truly reflects who we are.

Got questions or ready to get going? Whenever you need us, we're here to help. Just give us a ring on 0800 1380 458 or drop us a line



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Linda has over 20 years’ experience. She is a member of Switalskis' Wills and Probate team based at Wakefield.

Specialist Wills Clerk

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