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If you die without a Will then your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy, which is the term used for the set of rules that dictates who benefits from the distribution of the estate. These rules will not change in accordance with your wishes, so your assets may not be distributed in a way that you agree with. The only way to ensure that your estate is distributed in a way that suits your wishes is to make a Will.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that states who will make decisions on your behalf if the situation arises where you will be unable to make decisions for yourself such as, for example, if you were to develop a degenerative disease such as dementia. It is very important to take time in making the correct decision when appointing a Power of Attorney as they will be making many very important decisions on your behalf.
If you do not have a Will then there can be no guarantee that your estate will be passed on automatically to your spouse or partner. Even if you are married, intestacy rules still do not guarantee that your partner will receive your estate. If you are unmarried then the intestacy rules do not make any allowances for your situation; the only way to ensure that your partner will have your estate passed to them is to make a Will.
You should review your Will on a regular basis in order to make sure that it continues to reflect what you want and what your circumstances are.
Marriage will revoke any Will that you previously had in place, so when you marry it is very important to ensure that you make a Will that still reflects your current wishes. Equally, if you get divorced then it is important to make relevant changes to your Will.
If there are changes within your family such as the birth of a child or grandchild, then it is important to update your Will accordingly.
Alongside distribution of your estate, your Will can also include wishes for your funeral arrangements, gifts of items or cash that you wish to give to specific people or donations to charity that you wish to make. You may also discuss guardians for young children in your Will.