AH, January, the month of good intentions. When waistbands – and money – are tight, it can be challenging to focus on longer-term financial planning, but making a will should be top of your list.

The good news is that it’s now a lot easier to get started, with forward-thinking law firms investing in technology to allow you to start the process yourself, with considerable time and cost savings.

Alarmingly, around 60% of people in Scotland have not got round to making a will. It’s understandable – no-one wants to think about the subject of death – but if you own property or have children you should make it a priority.

If someone dies without a will, assets are distributed according to a strict set of rules which have been in place since the 1960s. However, these rules take no account of modern family structures and may mean that cohabitants and stepchildren lose out.

A famous case involves singer Amy Winehouse who died in tragic circumstances. She left behind an estimated £3 million fortune – but had not made a will. As a result, her assets went to her parents – to whom she was reportedly no longer close. Her ex-husband tried to claim from her estate but was unsuccessful.

Preparing a will gives you more control over who can inherit from your estate. It also ensures your wishes are followed. Wills also provide opportunities for wealth protection and inheritance tax planning, enabling you to safeguard your finances for the future and maximise your family’s benefit after you have gone.

So how to get started?

We have launched an online portal which helps clients gather and submit details of their circumstances, creating time-saving benefits. It’s "open" 24/7 so ideal for people who work long hours, as they can log on at a time that suits them.

It takes about 20 minutes to work through the questions and upload documentation. That way, when a client meets with one of our solicitors, they are briefed and ready to provide expert advice. From then on the service is bespoke for every client.

If you already have a will, I recommend you review it every five years, or more regularly if there has been a birth, marriage, divorce or death in the family. If your will is more than 15 years old, it’s worth meeting a private client solicitor for a no-obligation review to make sure it reflects the most up-to-date law and practices.

You can also put in place what is known as a "living will" – an Advance Medical Directive – to record your wishes when it comes to medical decisions and end of life care should you be unable to communicate your views on this in the future.

On that point, many adults wait until retirement before considering putting these in place, but noting your decisions early creates clear guidance and greater certainty should something happen at any time of life – and peace of mind for you and your family. Certainly a longer lasting benefit than that gym membership.

Alasdair Johnstone is a partner with Anderson Strathern