Making a will

People who die without a valid will, or intestate, leave costs and complications to their loved ones and often gift thousands of pounds to the State in what may be avoidable Inheritance Tax (IHT).

The Law Society says that anyone with assets and family or friends should make a will, regardless of their age. It is especially important if you are not married to your partner, because the law does not accord partners the same automatic rights of inheritance as spouses.
Assets which are jointly owned by unmarried partners on a joint tenancy basis would still pass automatically to the surviving partner under the rules of survivorship. Under the current intestacy rules, an unmarried partner has no rights to any assets that were not jointly owned (although the Law Commission has recently proposed to change this).

Making a will is also vital if you have children, as you can nominate guardians to care for them.

It is important to create a list of assets and debts and their approximate values. Include your property, investments, savings, insurance policies and pension.
In addition, consider details of individual bequests. Simply telling a relative that an item will be his or hers one day could cause trouble later.

You should receive professional advice on IHT planning as part of writing your will. Simple measures could save the beneficiaries of wealthier homeowners thousands of pounds in tax.

A key element of making a will is the naming of executors to ensure that your will instructions are carried out.

You should also update your will every five years or so and whenever your circumstances are changed by a significant life event, such as marriage, divorce or a birth or death in the immediate family. Another example would be after a house purchase or move.

Whoever draws up your will, make sure one copy is kept secure or deposit one with a probate registry.