BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
Making a will
Declan Curry puts your questions to solicitor Elizabeth Hicks
Declan put your e-mails to a specialist solicitor
Maybe we think we're too young, or possibly too poor. Whatever the reason, 65% of us don't have a will.

We all assume that our money and possessions will be handed on to our nearest and dearest - but that isn't necessarily the case.

Unmarried couples in particular could be in for a nasty shock when one partner dies - even if they've been living together for many years.

This morning on Breakfast:

  • Declan Curry asked for your questions on making a will, to put to our specialist solicitor Elizabeth Hicks
  • We had so many e-mails and text messages, that we've put together a round-up of your questions and our solicitor's answers

    Making a will: your questions answered

    Q: can you write your own will?
    A: Yes you can, but it's always advisable to get a solicitor to give you proper advice on tax and trusts

    Q: are will-writing services just as good?
    A: Possibly. The man thing is that the more complex your case, the greater your need for advice.

    Q: if you've lived with someone for years, will you automatically inherit if they die?
    A: No, there's no automatic inheritance and the idea of Common Law marriage is a myth. You could still make a claim under a law passed in 1975
    Without a will:
    If your savings and home total less than 125,000, your husband or wife will inherit the lot
    Above that figure, your children get half of the remainder
    Unmarried live-in partners get nothing (unless they're official civil partners)
    If you're not married and have no relatives, the taxman gets it all

    Q: what happens if you live together and have children?
    A: the children will inherit, under the intestacy laws. Again, the live-in partner could make a claim on the estate

    Q: I'm separated from my husband. Could he still inherit my house?
    A: Yes, he could make claim on your estate. And, even if you write him out of your will, he could still challenge that.

  • These answers apply to England only; the law in Scotland is different. And, please don't rely on this story alone to decide whether or not you need to make a will. If you're in doubt, get some specialist advice.

    Making a will
    Watch our interview again with family lawyer Elizabeth Hicks

    BBC Breakfast


    Dangers of not making a will
    06 Apr 06 |  Business


    Has China's housing bubble burst?
    How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
    Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific