Category: Wills

Categories

Do I Really Need to Make a Will?

What happens to your assets when you die? Doesn’t everything automatically go to your partner or spouse?

Well, no, and this mistaken belief might explain why so many people in the UK haven’t taken out a legally binding Will.

According to a survey by Will Aid, 49 per cent of people in the UK don’t currently have a Will in place, while 14 per cent of those who haven’t made a Will think their loved ones will automatically inherit when they die.

But that’s not what the law says, so if you die without a Will, your wealth won’t be distributed according to how you wish, even if you’ve made it known what you want to happen upon your death.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

The Rules of Intestacy govern what happens to a person’s Estate if you die without leaving a valid Will.

These state that once any tax and debts have been paid, the first £250,000 of what remains, your personal possessions and half of any outstanding wealth will go to your spouse or civil partner, and the rest will go to your children once they’ve turned 18.

So what does this mean in reality?

Firstly, it means that if you’re not married to your partner, they could receive absolutely nothing, even if you’ve lived together for many years.

Secondly, it means that if you’re separated but not divorced, your ex-husband or ex-wife will have a legal claim to part of your Estate.

Next, the rules mean that if your entire Estate is worth less than £250,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything, so conceivably, your children might not receive a penny.

And if you don’t have any living family members, all your assets will go to the state, whereas with a Will, you could have left it to an organisation or charity that you support.

So it’s in the best interests of both you and your loved ones to draw up a legally binding Will, so you can be sure your assets will go to your chosen beneficiaries and that nobody is left out.

A Will also lets you give clear instructions on other matters, such as whether you want to be cremated or buried, and who you want to be in charge of organising your Estate.

Take Charge of What Happens to Your Estate

Once you’ve taken out a Will, it’s then crucially important that you keep it up to date. Otherwise, it might not reflect changes in your life that may have happened since the original document was written, such as a marital separation, the death of a named beneficiary or the birth of a new child or grandchild.

Taking out a Will can also make a big difference to those loved ones you’ve left behind. For instance, if you’ve clearly laid out your wishes and these are legally binding, there’s no room for dispute over who gets what and what should happen to your money.

A Will also allows you to make sure you’re not paying more Inheritance Tax than is necessary, which again could be a great relief to your family and save them unnecessary stress at what’s already going to be a difficult time for them.

Ultimately, the advantages of taking out a Will are many, and it lets you be in control of your money and where it goes – and that can provide invaluable peace of mind to all concerned.

Sources
https://www.which.co.uk/money/wills-and-probate/passing-on-your-money/reasons-for-making-a-will-a4mzh4b503jc
https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/wills-trusts-tax-probate/will-writing/reasons-to-make-a-will/
https://www.willaid.org.uk/latest-news/14-uk-wrongly-assume-loved-ones-will-automatically-inherit-after-death

Ensuring harmony after death

With an estimated 60 per cent of people dying without having made a will, it’s troubling to think that their life savings and property may not be passed on according to their wishes.

One way of guaranteeing that those closest to you are taken care of is simply by making a will.

A will ensures that your assets are shared in the way that you would like. If you’re an unmarried couple, you can make sure your partner is provided for and if divorced, you can decide whether to leave anything to your former partner.

You are never too young to make a will. An online YouGov poll undertaken by children’s charity Barnardos found that of those people who have made a will, a surprisingly savvy 61 per cent did so before the age of 41.

More than one in five (22 per cent) cited having a child as a key driver whilst almost a quarter (23 per cent) stated financial planning as the reason for writing a will.

Although it is possible to write a will yourself there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure that your will is valid. Importantly, employing the services of a Solicitor can ensure the process is smooth and that you don’t pay more inheritance tax than necessary.

Begin by taking some time to think about what you want to include in your will, look at how much money and what property and possessions you have. Crucially, think about whom you want to benefit from your will and who is best placed to look after your children if under the age of 18.

Also consider who you would like to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death. You can appoint an executor at any time by naming them in your will.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, two witnesses are required to be present when a will is signed and they must have no beneficial interest as this could make it invalid.

Remember once you’ve made your will it’s important to keep it in a safe place and tell your executor, close friend or relative where it is. You should also consider reviewing it every five years and after any major change in your life – such as separation, marriage, divorce, having a child or moving house.