The Importance of having a Will
While it’s not something that we like to think about, death is a guaranteed occurrence for all of us. Unlike many things in life, death is the one thing that doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what your race, religion, gender or social status is – at some point, you will die. Some of us will have an idea of when this will happen – particularly when illness is involved. For many though, there will be no warning, no indications and the moment will simply come.
It’s a scary prospect, isn’t it? To be honest, it’s meant to be. If it wasn’t, there would be absolutely no need to consider it, and without that, there would be no plans in place. There is no point in dressing death up with niceties and sticking our heads in the sand. The point is, that as of right now, you are still living, and that means that you are in the favourable position of being able to make plans for the days following all that changing.
Your Will is your last chance to make your financial wishes clear. You would hate to think of those you leave behind fighting over what should happen to your estate, or to think that those you thought would be taken care of, won’t be, but without a Will, there is nothing you can do about it – your wishes will die along with you. It’s not all doom and gloom though as you do still have control over what you would like to happen. In writing a Will, your plans and intentions are legally recorded and will be enforced upon your death.
Making a Will is even more important if you have people that are dependent on you financially, if you have property, or other assets, or if you have savings and investments, insurance policies, or are the owner of a business.
What will happen if you don’t have a Will?
If you don’t create a Will, the rules of intestacy will apply. Under these rules, only certain people can inherit from your estate (the combined value of your assets, after any existing liabilities have been paid). Typically, these will be married or civil partners and sometimes other close relatives. For some, this may be enough. They may have a small estate and a straightforward personal life with just a married partner, for example. For others though, this can open a whole can of worms. For the rules of intestacy to apply, a couple must still be married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. Cohabiting partners, even if they have lived together for many years, can’t inherit in this way. If there are surviving children and grandchildren, the estate will get divided in accordance to these rules again, with the married or civil partner receiving all personal belongings and the first £270,000 of the estate, and then 50% of the remaining estate. This doesn’t just take away financial control, but any wishes regarding personal belongings and family heirlooms will also be out of your control. If you have a personal item intended to be left to someone other than you married or civil partner, this simply won’t happen.
Protecting your family through an up-to-date Will
Disagreements over Wills aren’t always nasty or with bad intent – sometimes, even with the best intentions, what you would want to happen simply might not. That’s why it’s so important to explicitly state your intentions in your Will. If you have young children who are unable to manage their own finances, for example, they may inherit, or be given, the sum of money you intended for them, but it might not be managed in the way in which you would have liked. Other non-financial factors include where a second spouse may live after your death, the percentage you would like any children and grandchildren to benefit, whether there are any charities you would like to leave a legacy to and more.
How to make a Will
It is always best to discuss your Will with those that it will affect, both to forewarn them and to answer any questions while you are still able to do so. You will need to appoint an executor, or executors, to manage your Will upon your death. An executor has the right to refuse this role, which is another reason why telling them your plans is so important. Make your wishes clear and ensure that your Will is kept in a safe place, where the executors know where to find it. Importantly, ensure that you review your Will regularly. Things change all the time, from personal relationships, new family members, divorces, and even things you might not have considered, such as the value in your home and whether it has increased. If it has risen substantially, would you then choose to distribute things differently, for example? Likewise, be sure to change your executors if you no longer consider them appropriate, or if they die themselves.
We can point you in the right direction to get your Will written for the first time or updated. Get in touch for further details.
This article does not constitute financial advice and should not be construed as such.