Why Do I Need to Make a Will?
Do I really need to make a Will? Surely everything I own just goes to my spouse or my partner when I die, right? Wrong. This mistaken belief is all-too common among the UK public and often cited as a reason for not making a Will.
According to a survey conducted by Will Aid, a charity supported by Simpson Millar, more than half of British adults don’t have a Will. It’s interesting that people who take great care and interest in their property, money and possessions don’t wish to decide themselves what happens to these after they die.
The only way to do this is by making a Will, and if you don’t, the law will decide who receives your Estate (everything you own at the time of death). As a result, your loved ones and chosen beneficiaries could end up losing out.
For initial advice get in touch with our Wills and Trusts Solicitors.
What Happens if I Don’t Make a Will?
If you don’t have a valid Will, the law in England and Wales says how your Estate is to be divided. Everything that you own (after your debts and tax have been paid) will be shared out, with your spouse or civil partner receiving the first £250,000 and your personal possessions and half of what remains, with the rest going to any children you have once they reach the age of 18.
This means that an unmarried partner could receive nothing. Conversely, if you’re separated, but not divorced, your spouse will still be entitled to part of your Estate, however long you’ve been separated. Or, depending on the value of your Estate, your children might receive nothing. Or if you have no living relatives, your whole Estate will belong to the Crown (the government).
If you don’t have a Will, then there’s no mechanism by which you can leave particular possessions or sums of money to friends or relatives, or gifts to charities.
Benefits of Making a Will
A Will not only sets out who should receive what you own when you die, but also sets out who’ll be in charge of organising your Estate and following your instructions. You can also use your Will to give instructions relating to whether you wish to be buried or cremated.
Protecting your Children
Writing a Will allows a parent to leave clear instructions as to who they would like to look after their children in the event of their death if there is no one alive with Parental Responsibility.
Avoiding Distress for Family and Friends
A Will which states your wishes prevents unnecessary emotional distress for family and friends at what’s already a very difficult time. We see all too often the stress caused when the lack of a Will means that family cannot carry out what they feel were the wishes of their loved one.
A Will can help you make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to. With the increasing value in property, more Estates than ever are subject to Inheritance Tax and so it’s important to consider this as part of the Will writing process.
You can only make a valid Will when you have the mental capacity to do so. No one else (not even anyone to whom you’ve given a Power of Attorney) can make a Will for you. So you should ensure you make a Will when you have the ability to make your own decisions.
In conclusion, the answer to the original question is clear. Yes, you should make a Will, as it’s the only way to guarantee that your assets are divided how you want them to be after your death.
For free legal advice call our Wills & Trusts Solicitors
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