Make a will to avoid the unintended consequences of intestacy
With more people having large estates to leave when they die, experts have warned of the importance of making a will as Dying Matters Awareness Week draws to a close.
The Law Society, the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales, also spoke of the importance of ensuring your will is professionally written, as in England and Wales anyone can offer will-writing services, with no professional qualifications or training.
'Everyone knows that making a will is important to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their death, but it is all too easy to keep it at the bottom of the to-do list,' says Jonathan Smithers, president of the Law Society.
He explains it is important to 'think about who you would want to benefit and to get your will drawn so you and your family can have peace of mind'.
If you die without leaving a will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Under these rules, only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit, and the amount they receive is prescribed.
Not only should you have a will written, it is also important to make sure it is drawn up by a properly qualified solicitor, the society adds, as a badly written document could be costly.
'It is worth taking care over a will to make sure that you understand tax liabilities and property rights are properly addressed,' adds Smithers.
'Cheap offers can come at a high price - a badly written will can be financially and emotionally harmful for family and friends.
'A solicitor can help explain the complexities, help you avoid any pitfalls [and] help you avoid inadvertently leaving behind problems for loved ones.'
The Law Society runs a service that helps people find a local solicitor to talk to throughout England and Wales.