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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
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