Making a will is rarely a priority but there is no question that a properly drafted Will does make life easier for those you leave behind and having a will ensures that your assets are left to those you intended.
The main reason for making a will is to ensure that following your death your estate is distributed amongst the people that you would like to receive it rather than the people specified by the Government under the intestacy rules. A will also enables you to appoint guardians for your children and set guidelines for the guardians regarding major decisions that will have to be made for your children in the future. It also allows you to ensure your estate is dealt with in a tax efficient manner. Inheritance Tax is charged at 40% on the value of the estate currently over £325,000. There are some exemptions that can be used to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable.
Intestacy rules do not recognise unmarried couples no matter how long they have been living together and therefore if any property (including the home in which they live) is in the sole name of the partner that dies then it will pass to their next of kin (or even the Crown) rather than the surviving partner. Even if you are married the law limits the amount that passes directly to a spouse. If the net estate is greater than £250,000 some of the estate may have to be shared with any surviving children.
Making a will is not expensive and doesn't kill you. It does however provide some peace of mind that what you want to happen after your death actually takes place.