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? Here's how a Will can help you protect your family, your money, and your assets.
Many people put off making a Will. It's often stereotyped as a document that you only need to create when you're seriously ill or reaching a certain age, but really, anyone with any assets (such as cash, possessions, property or investments) or any dependents or family should make one. Over the past three years, research has found that more than half the UK population doesn't have a Will, including 59% of parents and 44% of homeowners, meaning that there's a real danger that those people's assets won't end up where they would like on their death. If you don't currently have a Will, or you're unsure of it's purpose, here are ten reasons why making a Will would benefit you.
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 of your house, especially if you have children. With a Will, you decide who inherits what and you take control. You can find out more about the intestacy rules here.
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. The often-used term 'common-law spouse' is not recognised in law, and unless you are legally married or in a civil partnership you will inherit nothing if you are in a relationship. By making a Will, you can ensure that your wishes are met. It’s your money – it’s your decision.
Look After Your Children
If you have any minor children (under 18s), 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 existing family members, or could even appoint someone else to be the legal guardian of your children in some circumstances.
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.
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 young people to come into a large 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.
Make A Tax Efficient Will
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is collected on your estate when you die, which could take a big bite out of the value of 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 tax than is necessary.
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 particular person, or maybe a professional, such as a solicitor who will be able to advise you correctly and make sure that your assets are correctly distributed.
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.
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 to charities that mean a lot to you. It’s a great way to say “thank you” for the wonderful work they do – and because gifts to charity are free of tax it helps to save Inheritance Tax too!
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. If you've ever had to sort out the affairs of someone who didn't leave any instructions, you'll know how difficult it can be. It’s a great feeling to know that you won’t be leaving your loved ones with a mess to sort out.
It's not worth leaving anything to chance. If you have assets or dependents, then this is definitely something worth making time for sooner rather than later.
Here at Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth, we can help you protect your future. If you haven't already prepared your Will, or need to review or amend some aspects of your Will, get in touch with our expert legal team here. We can give you simple, straightforward guidance and make sure that your individual wishes are carried out. If you're not ready to make a Will yet, you can download our factsheet on this article below.
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