You think you don’t need to write a Will?
It’s time to think again
“I’m sure I don’t need to write a will. The kids will be fine. They don’t fall out with each other, so everything will just be split equally between them.” We’ve lost count of how often we hear this kind of comment. If this is how you’re thinking, you’re not alone.
Here are some statistics -
- 3 in 5 adults don’t have a Will
- 1 in 3 have never thought about writing a Will
- 1 in 4 of the over-55s haven’t written one
- 3 in 4 co-habiting couples don’t have a Will
- Fewer than half of single adults have written a Will.
- 1 in 5 separated or divorced adults haven’t written a Will
- 50% of adults with children haven’t written a Will but intend to
- 3 in 5 parents with children under the age of 18 haven’t chosen guardians for their children in the event of their death.
So, where do you sit? How much do you think about the financial well-being of your loved ones when you’re no longer around?
What happens if you don’t make a Will? Your property will be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. Only your close family will inherit your estate. Maybe you’re happy with that prospect. But, this could also result in them having to pay out a fortune in inheritance tax. When you’re gone, they might miss you - but they won’t thank you.
As you plan your Will, it’s a good time to discuss your thoughts with your family. They might feel uncomfortable with that kind of conversation, but they might find it useful too. They’ll appreciate that you’re doing your best to look after them. It will help with their own financial planning.
If you don’t have much money, you might think that there’s little point in drawing up a Will. But don’t forget your property and your belongings - your home, jewellery, furniture, cars, even your pets. Such possessions could be subject to all kinds of unsightly wrangling between your children. Having your wishes properly set out in writing will avoid so much confusion and unpleasantness.
Marriage is a key factor when thinking about a Will. Did you know? Once you marry, any Will that you have in place at the time is automatically revoked. You need to re-draft it. If you have children from a previous marriage, Will renewal is vital. Inaction might result in your entire estate going to your new spouse, automatically omitting everyone else.
Even if you’re planning a separation or divorce, you should look again at your Will. If you die before the divorce is complete, you could find that everything reverts to your current spouse.
A Will can comprise numerous elements. Here are a few –
You need to appoint one or more executors to deal with your estate in the event of your death. Executors are responsible for collecting in your assets, paying any debts and taxes due, and distributing your estate among the beneficiaries. It’s an important role and one you should entrust to someone in whom you have confidence.
You can provide for specific funeral arrangements in your will. You might also want your body to be donated to medical research.
If you have children under the age of 18, you can safeguard your children’s interests by appointing legal guardians to care for them if you and your spouse both die. Before you appoint a guardian, you should check that they are happy with the idea.
You can use a Letter of Wishes to identify individual items (jewellery, furniture etc.) that you wish to pass on to specific individuals. You can use this Letter of Wishes to list charities that you wish to donate to.
You can use your Will to provide for complex family arrangements, for example, to include children from previous relationships.
Asset protection through trusts
Trusts are used to protect assets should future generations suffer financial or matrimonial difficulties, or if the beneficiaries are not mature and responsible enough to look after large sums of money.
Trusts can have long-term inheritance tax advantages in cases where capital appreciation is anticipated to outstrip future increases of the nil-rate band. They can also be used to benefit future generations by by-passing children to benefit grandchildren.
As you see, Wills can be a complex business – with so much to think about. More than you may realise. But whatever your stance on the importance of writing a Will, do yourself just one favour. Talk to an expert. You don’t have to spend time and money on visiting a solicitor. We’re experts in Will writing, and we’re here to help.
Find out more. Call us on 0116 473 6133 or send us an email.
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