Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

"Why should I make a will?” Common questions and assumptions

11 February 2016

If you die without making a Will, you will be ‘intestate’, and in the UK this means that if you have no close relatives, your money and property could all go to the state (the Crown).

Even if you do have relatives you are still handing the decision over to the legal system, and your property will be divided up in accordance with the rules of law, rather than what you would wish.

You might think: ‘I’m married. My spouse will inherit everything anyway.’
You may believe, as many people do, that your husband, wife, or partner, will automatically inherit everything you own (called your ‘estate’) when you die. This may not happen. If you die without making a Will, the law will divide your property between your relatives. This could mean that your partner has to sell the house in order to share its value with your other relatives. And more distant relatives may have a claim on your estate, even though you did not intend to benefit them.

You might think: ‘My children will inherit everything’
But who is to look after your children if your partner dies? In making your Will, you can take the opportunity to appoint guardians if your children are under 18. You could also set up trust funds for their future, which could also save tax on your estate.

You might believe: ‘I don’t own enough to make a Will worthwhile.’
When you get around to adding up everything you own, you might be pleasantly surprised. Whatever you have, isn’t it important to you, that it goes to those people and causes that you care about? Everybody should make a Will.

A properly drawn up Will is cheaper than the mess, and possible heartache, left for your relatives if you have not made a Will.

Making a Will can also be a very satisfying experience, you can be content knowing that you have taken care of those you love, and helped the causes you care about.

Some people think: ‘I can’t afford it / It’s too difficult.’
It’s easy to make your Will, and costs less than you think. In the UK, you can telephone a local solicitor (lawyer) for a price. They will be delighted to hear from you. In some cases, Legal Aid is available (in the UK). Getting a little organised with your thoughts and assets before you go to the solicitor will also make it much easier, and cheaper (because you save their time). Knowing, for instance, how much you own, whom you wish to benefit, executors etc., all helps. See our section on how to go about making your Will.

Some say: ‘I made my Will years ago.’
Have you looked at it again recently? Does it reflect changes such as the birth of new family members, changes in your financial circumstances, marriage, separation, divorce, the sad loss of friends or relatives mentioned in your original Will, causes which you would like to benefit? You can alter your Will by attaching a ‘Codicil’, signed by two independent witnesses in the same way as your original Will. If you make major changes your solicitor can help you make a completely new Will.

If you wish to leave a bequest to the Lord Dowding Fund we can send you a codicil form which needs to be witnessed and signed in the same way as your original Will.

’What if I change my mind?’
It’s easy and simple to change your Will, and you can change it as often as you like. You will need a codicil, as detailed above.

You might think: ‘I’m on my own. I don’t need a Will.’
If you have no relatives, and you don’t make a Will, everything you have worked for all your life will go to the state. By making a Will, you can choose where your money and property should go when you die; to your dearest friends, and those causes you support.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society