If you own property or any other assets, if you have dependants, or if there are people in your life whom you either would or would not like to leave your estate to, then it's a very good idea to have a will in place as soon as you can. 

If you've been putting off writing your will for whatever reason, or if you would like to update an existing will, our Wills Month (in 2018 from Monday 10th September to Friday 5th October) is the perfect time to take action.

Not convinced? Here are 5 reasons why now's the time to get things in order.

1. Your loved ones will be looked after

Anyone who has ever come into contact with one of our helicopters due to a medical or trauma incident will be well aware that almost anything can happen to a person at any time.

That doesn't mean we need to go around in a perpetual state of dread, but given the only certainly is uncertainty, having a legal will in place can help to alleviate some of the complexity of managing affairs that befall loved ones in such circumstances.

Not having a will in place can be costly, as your estate will then have to pay for the details to be ironed out by lawyers, which can also be complicated and the outcome not necessarily what you would wish for those you leave behind. Furthermore, the loss of a family member is challenging enough without the added burden of that loved one dying intestate (without a will).

2. 'Common law partner' and 'next of kin' are not fixed legal terms

Contrary to popular belief, the person you are living with, who may be your partner, is not protected by any 'common law' status that entitles them to your property in the event of your death. If you are living with someone you are not married and you would like them to be the beneficiary of your will, then it is important to have a formal will written up that explicitly names them. 

Speak to a legal professional about what happens in the event that you have children together, or if your partner has brought children to your relationship and you would like them to be beneficiaries of your will if they are not your own.

It's also important to be aware that there is no legal definition of what constitutes 'next of kin'. Therefore if you have children and you would like them to be looked after by a specific person or people in the event of your death, then this also needs to be specified in your will.

3. Estates can be dealt with smoothly

The way we buy property is changing. Nowadays, many unmarried couples and friends are pooling their financial resources to get on the property ladder.

The money people bring to property purchases is not always evenly balanced; one member of the pair may have placed a greater financial investment into a property than the other, therefore the legal arrangement needs to be very clearly laid out should one member of the pair or group die.

At the time of purchasing the property it is likely that a legal conversation has already taken place, but it's nevertheless important to ensure all avenues are covered to avoid ambiguity, uncertainty and conflict.

4. You can support a charity instead of 'the Crown'

In general there are direct beneficiaries to wills: family members, distant relations, and friends. However, if the individual outlives all those who could benefit from their will, and no beneficiary can be found at the time of their death, then 'the Crown' will inherit your estate, not 'the State' as is often supposed.

This antique legislation means that your wealth transfers to whoever the Duchy is for your region. In Devon, estates without an heir pass to the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince Charles.

If you would prefer your legacy was directed to make an impact of your own choice, then you can, of course, name a charity in the event that no heir is listed or can be found. In this way the naming of a charity functions as a kind of 'end stop' and you can feel confident that your money is leaving a lasting impact according to your final wishes.

Furthermore, if you are an unmarried person with an estate valued at over £325,000, then your estate will be taxed at 40% for everything over the £325,000 Nil rate Band limit. However, if you leave legacies totalling at least of 10% of your total estate to a charity or charities of your choice, then tax is payable on 36%, so there is a tax incentive to leaving a charitable legacy.

5. Local solicitors are donating half their Will Writing fees to Devon Air Ambulance this Wills Month

National Air Ambulance Week marks the beginning of Wills Month.

From September 10th to October 5th, participating legal firms across Devon are donating 50% of their standard Will Writing fees to Devon Air Ambulance. All you need to do is book your initial appointment during the period and quote 'DAAT Will Scheme Offer'. 

Find out more about the firms participating near to you and book your appointment today.