Writing a Will is the best way to ensure your wishes are honoured when the time comes. Over the last few weeks there have been numerous programmes, both drama and documentary, looking at the potential fall outs if you do not have the correct paperwork.
If you already have a Will in place, consider when you should review it: buying your first home, moving home, marriage, divorce, re-marriage, children, a significant change in your financial situation, i.e., inheriting money or starting / running business, gender reassignment or a death in the family, are all times your Will should be reviewed.
Below are ten reasons why writing a Will is so important:
- Decide what happens to your estate
A Will is a legally binding document which is the only way you decide how your estate is distributed after you have passed away. Without one, your estate will pass in accordance with a very strict set of rules as laid down in law. This means the people you would like to inherit your estate may end up with nothing, while those who you would rather not inherit take the lion’s share. Having a Will also makes things much easier for the loved ones you leave behind and minimises the chance of disputes at an already stressful time.
- Decide who will look after your children
A Will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your minor children. Without a Will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. Having a Will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do not want to raise your children.
- To protect your partner if you are unmarried
No matter how long you have been in a relationship with your partner, unmarried partners are not entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your Will. Writing a Will ensures your partner receives their fair share of your estate, if that is your wish.
- Reduce inheritance tax
Another reason to have a Will is that it enables you to minimise inheritance tax. The value of what you give away to certain family members or charity will reduce the value of your estate when it’s time to pay inheritance tax. How your Will is structured can impact on the allowances and Nil Rate Bands that will be available.
- Choose your own executors
Having a Will allows you to decide who will deal with your estate. Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including settling bills, collecting in assets, and distributing your estate in accordance with the wishes set out in your Will. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you will want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organised (which may or may not always be a family member).
- It’s easier, and more affordable, than you might think
Some people put off writing a Will because they think it’s too much hassle; it isn’t! With our help and guidance, you can ensure that your estate passes to your intended beneficiaries in the most efficient manner. The cost of writing your Will varies depending on the complexity of your estate.
- Let your legacy live on when you’re gone Make gifts and donations. The ability to make gifts is a good reason to have a Will because it allows your legacy to live on and reflect your personal values and interests.
- Avoid significant legal challenges
For a Will to be valid, certain legal requirements must be followed. A professionally drafted and well documented Will can vastly reduce the chances of a successful challenge to your Will, thus ensuring your wishes are carried out.
- You can change your mind if your circumstances change
Whilst we try and future proof your Will (to cover further children/grandchildren for example), life changes can create situations where changing your Will is necessary. You can therefore change your Will as often as you need to throughout your life.
- Tomorrow is not promised
Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not having a Will. Sometimes the realisation that Wills are necessary comes too late – such as when an unexpected death or health issues occur including the loss of capacity. To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, making a Will or updating an existing Will can give you peace of mind for the future.
If you would like more information regards putting a Will in place, please do get in touch with one of the team:
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.