A will is the only way to make sure your money, property, possessions and investments (known as your estate) go to the people and causes you care about.

If you and your partner aren’t married or in a civil partnership, your partner won’t have an automatic right to inherit if you don’t have a will.


Make a will to name your children’s guardian

You don’t just decide how your estate is divided up in a will and sort finances. You also have a say as to who should look after your dependents. If they’re under 18, you can also appoint legal guardians for your children. If this is not done then it could be left to the family courts to decided and they may end up with persons whom you wouldn’t have agreed with.

Ensure your children are provided for financially

As well as saying who will raise your children, you can make plans to provide for their future financially. This might include putting aside money for their education, making sure they receive a set amount each year for clothing or hobbies, or establishing savings to buy a home.

Provide for your dependents, including step-children

Your step-children may be a big part of your life, or even be your only children, but the law states that only spouses or blood relatives can automatically inherit if there is no will. If you want to provide for your step-children, you’ll need to write a will that includes them. The same goes for foster children, or any other dependents who may rely on you for support.

Protect your partner if you’re unmarried

Unmarried partners aren’t entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your will – no matter how long you’ve been together.

Safeguard your family home

If the family home is in your name, your unmarried partner and step-children aren’t automatically in line to inherit it if you die without a will – meaning they may lose their home. You can leave them a share of the property in your will, or a right to reside in the property.

Head off family disputes

Dividing up an estate can sadly sometimes lead to squabbles and arguments among your survivors if there is no will or your wishes aren’t made clear. Contested wills can be damaging to relationships among your family, and can also be expensive if decisions about your estate are legally contested. 

Avoid paying more inheritance tax than you need to

The amount of inheritance tax that will be charged from your estate depends on how much you have, and also who you leave it to.

Decide who you would like to settle your affairs

Within your will, you can name an executor, or multiple executors, who will be in charge of carrying out your final wishes. Choosing your executor in advance allows you to select the best person for the task. It also gives the executor prior warning so they can prepare themselves.

Protect your digital assets

Nowadays, your assets won’t just include money in the bank and physical goods. Digital accounts and online purchases, such as music, photographs, or websites, also form part of your possessions and can disappear into the void if you don’t account for them in your will.


As you move through life your circumstances change, as do the potential risks and complications when you pass away. You should consider making a new will:

  • when you have an unmarried partner who should inherit from your estate.
  • when you get married, and your old will is invalidated (in England and Wales) or doesn’t include your new spouse (in Scotland).
  • When you have a child so that you can appoint a guardian.
  • When you buy a property or receive a large windfall.
  • If you get divorced, as your previous will won’t automatically be invalidated.
  • When you want to make provisions for step-children, foster children or dependents.
  • If your spouse passes away, and your previous will left the estate to them.


If you die without a will, your estate will be divided up in line with the rules of intestacy. This means you will have little control over who receives your estate.

If you have any further questions regarding wills or would like us to write a will on your behalf then please feel free to contact us. info@cawleyanddavis.com