The importance of making a will when you buy a house

the importance of making a will

Buying a house is undoubtedly one of the biggest investments you will ever make and perhaps the most valuable thing you will ever own. It is likely, therefore, that you will want to protect it and make sure your home passes on to your loved ones when you die. We know that buying a house can be a stressful and busy time, we explain the importance of making a will or reviewing your existing will to see whether it still reflects both your requirements and your wishes.

  • What is a will?
  • Do I need a will if I am buying a house with someone else?
  • Do I need a will if I am buying a house by myself?
  • Will making a will slow down the conveyancing process?
  • Reviewing my will

| What is a will? 

A will is a legally binding document that manages and plans distribution of your assets after your death. It is important as it will deal with things such as investments, money, property, and possessions. Essentially, it ensures that your loved ones are aware of any wishes you have regarding your possessions after your death. 

| What will happen if I die without making a will?

As we will see below, a will is really the only way to ensure that your loved ones inherit your home and belongings after you die. So who will inherit if you die before making a will? Our short questionnaire will tell you what would happen in your individual circumstances if you died intestate (without making a will).

| Do I need a will if I am buying a house with someone else? 

If you are buying a house with someone else, during the conveyancing process, your conveyancer will ask you how you intend to own your house together. When discussing the importance of making a will, there are two options to consider: Are you Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common. 

| Joint Tenants 

Buying as joint tenants means you will both own the property equally. This is the case even where one person has paid more of the deposit or contributes more towards the mortgage repayments. As joint tenants, your ownership is equal, and no one has a specific share. This is most common amongst married couples or those in a longstanding committed relationship. 

If one of you were to die, the property would automatically pass onto the other person. They will then own the house by themselves. As the house automatically passes to the surviving owner, the deceased cannot pass it on in their will. This is unless at the time of death, they were the last surviving owner and have now become the sole owner. 

| Tenants in Common 

Buying as tenants in common means that you own the property jointly, but each owner holds a specific share in the property. Each person’s share can be held either equally (e.g. if there are 2 owners, it can be shared 50%-50%) or unequally, depending on the contributions. For example, the property ownership could be split 90%-10% or 70%-30% etc. 

On death, each owner’s share will not automatically pass to the surviving owner. The deceased’s will would deal with how the share is inherited after their death. This may be attractive to people who, for example, may wish their children from another relationship to benefit from the house after their death. 

If there is no valid will in place, the Intestacy Rules will apply, and your executors will share out your assets according to these Rules. The Intestacy Rules mean that only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit. Therefore, some of your loved ones may not benefit. This is particularly important if you are not married but have a partner, as your partner will have no automatic entitlement to any of your estate. Further, if you are separated but remain married, your estate will still go to your spouse. For these people, making a will is especially important. 

| Do I need a will if I am buying a house by myself? 

Yes. If you are buying a house by yourself, you will hold it in your sole name. This means it is entirely your own asset. If you do not have a will, the Intestacy Rules will apply, and those loved ones you wish to benefit may not. Further, it means that people like estranged spouses may benefit from your estate when you would rather they did not. Having a will in place ensures your wishes are met and those you love can benefit from your assets. 

Sometimes, someone you love may reside with you in your home. You may wish to consider making a provision to provide future security for them by allowing them to continue living in your home, long after you die. You could make provision for this within your will. This is particularly important if you live with an unmarried partner or with an elderly relative.  

A will can also help to ensure your estate does not pay any unnecessary inheritance tax and can help mitigate the impact on any future care home fees. 

| Will making a will slow down the conveyancing process?

Making a will whilst buying a property does not slow down or interfere with the conveyancing process. It will not affect your transaction in any way. 

| Reviewing my will

Remember it is important to regularly review any existing will to make sure it still accurately reflects your wishes. We suggest that you review your will when purchasing a new property or after any big life events. For example, getting married, getting separated or divorced, or having children. We offer a free will review service. 

If you would like some more information about the importance of making a will or reviewing an existing will, we can help. Call us on 0800 988 7756 or book an appointment online. 

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