You've probably been told that a Will is important. You might have even received a funny look when telling people you haven't already made a Will. Well, if so, give them a funny look back because in 2018 it was revealed that nearly two thirds of UK adults don't have a Will, including 42% of over 55s! 1️⃣
A Will is a vital tool for safeguarding your estate for your loved ones in the event of your death. But what does it actually do?
Diane Weston, Partner at Woolley, Beardsleys & Bosworth LLP, gives us 10 reasons why Wills are so important:
1. You Control What Happens
If you don’t make a Will, the ‘Intestacy Rules’ will govern how your estate is divided up when you die. They determine which of your relatives receives how much and this can lead to some nasty surprises. For example, your husband or wife may not inherit everything, perhaps not even all your house. With a Will, you decide who inherits what and you take control.
2. Provide For Friends Or Partners
The Intestacy Rules do not provide at all for friends or even for a partner who you may have lived with for years – they will inherit nothing. By making a will, you can leave them as much or as little as you like. It’s your money – it’s your decision.
3. Look After Your Children
If you have any minor children, you can name guardians to look after them if anything were to happen to you. If you do not have a Will then the court will nominate a guardian from any existing family members, or could even appoint someone else to be the legal guardian of your children.
4. Provide For Your Step-Children
Under the Intestacy Rules, your step-children are not counted as your children and will inherit nothing – even if their other parents have already died. You can change this – make a Will and you can be certain their future is secure.
5. Stop Teenagers Blowing The Lot
If you don’t have a Will, your children will inherit at the age of 18. Teenage years are not necessarily the best time for some to come into a sum of money! By making a Will, you can determine when your children will inherit, safeguarding the money for a time when they may really need it.
6. Make A Tax Efficient Will
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is collected on your estate when you die, which could heavily diminish the property, possessions and money you wish to leave to your loved ones. By making a Will you can make sure that you don’t pay more IHT than is necessary.
7. Choose Your Executors
When you die, someone will need to deal with the practicalities. If you don’t make a Will, you have no control over who this will be. It will usually be a family member. If you make a Will, you can choose who you would like to deal with matters. You may prefer to appoint a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant – someone who will not be suffering the distress of bereavement.
8. Set Out Your Funeral Wishes
No one likes to think about what will happen to their body when they die. Your family will want to think about this even less when the time comes. In your Will, you can set out in advance whether you wish to be buried or cremated or if you have any particular funeral requests. This can be a great help to your family at a difficult time.
9. Give To Charity
The Intestacy Rules don’t allow for any gifts to charity out of your estate. By making a Will you can leave a set amount or a percentage of your total estate. It’s a great way to say “thank you” for the wonderful work they do – and it helps to save Inheritance Tax too!
10. Give Yourself Peace Of Mind
Leaving a Will means you can be sure that everything is dealt with in the way you wish following your death. It’s a great feeling to know that you won’t be leaving your loved ones with a mess to sort out.
As you can see, it's not worth leaving anything to chance. The unfortunate truth is that we all die, so If you're thinking "I'll do it next year" or "I haven't got time at the moment", this is definitely something worth making time for.
If you haven't already prepared your Will, or need to review/amend some aspects of your Will, please get in touch with our expert legal team at Woolley, Beardsleys & Bosworth LLP.
1️⃣ Chapman, B. (2018). Nearly two thirds of UK adults don't have a will, research finds. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/nearly-two-thirds-of-uk-adults-dont-have-a-will-research-finds-a8148316.html [Accessed 12 Mar. 2019].