Why should I write a Will? I'm Skint!

Home » Blog » Why should I write a Will? I'm Skint!
Man showing his empty pocket, no money

I had a message on Facebook the other day from someone who said 'You have written a lot about Wills and although I understand the logic of making one my wife and I are both pot-less, so why on earth should we bother?'

He went on to liken his family, tongue-in-cheek, to the new Taylor clan on EastEnders — if you haven't seen them, think bog-standard Jeremy Kyle TV show guests raised in a skip.

The Taylors consist of single mum Karen, who comes across as a Waynetta Slob tribute act, and four children from different absent fathers. Karen has no income except for state benefits and whatever cash her eldest son Keanu brings in. Their flat is rented and their only possessions appear to be a fridge, a cooker, a TV, a leather armchair, a staffie called Bronson and Rooney the bearded dragon. Their sofa was repossessed before they arrived.

As luck would have it, the underclass Taylors illustrate why everyone — even two-fisted matriarch Karen — needs a Will. She might not have the proverbial pot to piddle in, but Karen has got real assets in her life, her children, and she has a duty to protect them.

If she croaks what happens to them?

If Karen got round to making a Will, and backing it up with a legal letter setting out her wishes (aka 'Letter of Intent'), she could rest assured that her wishes regarding precisely who would have custody of the younger children (be it their errant fathers or her eldest daughter Chantelle who has already flown the nest with two kids of her own) would be honoured.

In writing a Will, she would also establish who the guardians should be of any personal property the kids might have, who would decide where their money (should there be any) is invested until they grow up, who would care for the family pets and so on.

Karen appears not to own any jewellery, but most families would have rings, necklaces, bracelets and other personal items of sentimental value to pass on to their kids, (be it a family heirloom such as granddad's sovereign ring, grandma's favourite knuckleduster or a personalised iPod). Her Will would decide who gets what.

There might be other issues too, because actress Lorraine Stanley who plays Karen was in the soap last year as Thelma Bragg, mother of Jay's underage girlfriend Linzi. Someone with two families really does need to make a Will or risk their rival daughters slugging it out at the wake for possession of her cigarette lighter and her small but durable collection of denim casual wear.

She might also consider leaving a note for whichever magistrate her son Keegan comes up before with her suggestions for the most suitable borstal for his needs. The beak would probably ignore it, but at least it'll show that she cares...

Even if you are "pot-less" it's possible that you have treasures in your life that need to be thought about after you've gone. Because if you die without leaving a Will who gets what and who goes where will be entirely at the discretion of the court.

Without a Will you have not got a voice, and the law decides.

Finally, here is a very good point, made by Teressa McDonald , Head of Legal Services at The Will Associates Limited.

"When I have clients who tell me that they have nothing to leave I always point out that they're not dead yet and anything could happen between now and then.

"They could die while crossing the road, having just snapped up the winning lottery ticket. They might die as the result of an accident or an incident whereby their estate is due to receive compensation. They could inherit a lump sum from a distant relative...

"So in theory even someone as hard-up as Karen Taylor could pass away with a large amount in her estate that she has made no provision for. And her family might easily fall out about even a relatively small amount.

"Making it clear who is to get the residue of her estate (and therefore any windfall) is relatively straightforward and it means that Karen — and you — would have peace of mind and also that the windfall will not be wasted on legal fees for the feuding family."

*By the way, if you are Karen Taylor's age — early 40s — with no pension savings (and millions are in that boat), it's never too late to start thinking about your retirement income.

If Karen had a pension and died before taking anything from it, her beneficiaries would normally be paid it as a tax-free lump sum.

If she died before she reached 75, her family can take it as tax-free cash or stay in flexi-access drawdown or buy her annuity — and the income will also be tax-free.

If she died at 75 or over they still get the money, but they will be taxed on it.

So, Will writing is not the only consideration. There are many more good reasons to plan ahead ...

Garry Bushell, July 2017

Share this article