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Do I need a will after buying a house?

Once you’ve bought a new house, it may be time to consider planning some more for your future. Owning property means you should probably think about writing or updating your will.

Do I need a will after buying a house?


Your will may be a faraway thought right now, as you carefully unwrap your wine glasses and worry about whether you remembered to tell the bank that you’ve moved house.  If you’re a First Time Buyer whose new home is the first high-value asset you’ve ever owned, you might not have even considered drawing up a will before.

But, as soon as you get a minute to yourself, pop your feet up on that makeshift coffee table and turn your attention to who benefits from your new home after you’ve gone.

Why write a will now?

You’re busy. You’ve got unpacking to do and there’s an endless swirl of paperwork to be done. So, why focus on your will now?

It’s best to write a will or update a will whenever your life significantly changes.

Marriage, opening a new business, adopting a child – all of these are fantastic reasons to think about sorting out your will. As a record of your final wishes, it gives you the opportunity to plan for the future and provide for loved ones.

The problem with putting it off (yes, it’s yet another thing on that rapidly expanding to-do list), is that if the worst happens, and you die without a will, then you have no control over who gets what.

If you want to give your family the security to enjoy their home once you’ve passed away, then an up-to-date will is essential.

If you don’t have a will

Wills are generally written in two ways: by yourself or by a solicitor/ professional will-writer.

It’s most advisable to use a legal professional. They’ll help you get it right the first time. The last thing you want is to spend time divvying up your possessions, only for your loved ones to find out it’s an invalid will, leaving it wide open to a challenge and potentially seeing them lose the home you wanted to give them.

To make life a bit easier, you and your partner can even draw up joint wills – two separate but identical wills that bequeath the new house (and everything inside that makes it home) to each other.

If you don’t already have a will, then your new house and all your possessions fall under the rules of intestacy.

Your partner usually inherits your home and possessions, but only if you’re married or in a civil partnership. Simply living with a partner isn’t enough to guarantee they’ll get the house. The state’s decision may also be disputed. In other words, there’s a very real threat of leaving your family homeless.

If you already have a will

If you already have a will, then you’ll know all about making sure your family’s future is secure.
So, then the question becomes: Should my will include my current address?

There’s no legal requirement for your current address to be in the will. The addresses that are strictly required are those of your two witnesses, and any charity or organisation you include as a beneficiary.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t update the document as soon as possible. Failing to include your new house address risks invalidating the will.

Let’s say your will says you gift the house to your surviving partner. If you only have one home, then it’s going to be obvious which property you mean. And, likely as not, the will is then executed according to your wishes.

That doesn’t mean a court will agree if someone contests the will. The issue becomes even less clear if you own multiple homes.

There are two ways to update a will now you’ve moved to a new house:
  • Add a codicil

A codicil is a separate document, added to your will, that provides additional information, such as a change of address. It’s a simple way of updating a will without entirely rewriting it, and a solicitor will be able to advise on creating one.
  • Write a new will

If your life’s seen substantial changes or you already have several codicils, then it may be time to start your will from scratch. A good example would be when you move from a rented property to owning your home.

Get help writing your will

When you’re caught up in the excitement of moving house, it’s easy to forget about your will until it’s too late. After all, with everything else that’s going on, you don’t have time to scour the internet for a legal professional or write a will yourself.

Our sister site, The Law Superstore, connects you with up to 4 solicitors and professional will-writers, letting you compare prices and choose the one that’s right for you. 

So, while they’re drawing up your will, you can focus on planning the housewarming party.
 

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FeeFee on 29/01/2021

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