The National Will Register found that 56% of adults in the UK do not have a Will in a recent report mainly because they feel it is too morbid of a topic to think about or because they are not concerned about what happens after death.
Making a Will is essential, and is not just important for parents, people with dependents to consider, and people with health conditions, but they are also essential for fit and healthy people too.
Once a Will has been drawn up, it is also vital to remember that following every important stage in your life or after a significant event in your life, you should have your Will reviewed to ensure it protects and fulfils your wishes.
Why make a Will: –
1. Provide for your dependents.
It is better that your loved ones know you have made a positive expression of your wishes in terms of your assets, than it being left to chance. If you are married and have children too, this is an opportunity to let them see your concern for them.
If you have stepchildren they may be a big part of your life, or even be your only children. However, if you do not leave behind a Will, they will not receive an inheritance from you, as the law in those circumstances states that only spouses or blood relatives can automatically inherit if there is no Will. Therefore, if you want to provide for your stepchildren, you will need to write a Will to ensure that they are included and receive something from you when you pass away. The same applies for foster children, or any other dependents who may rely on you for support and who may find themselves without an inheritance from you.
2. Protect your Partner if you are unmarried.
Unmarried partners are not entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your Will – irrespective of how long you have been together. Writing a Will ensures your partner will receive their fair share of your estate and are looked after when you are no longer around.
3. Safeguard the family home.
If the family home is in your sole name, your unmarried partner and stepchildren are not automatically in line to inherit it if you die without a Will. This not only means that they may lose the place they call home when you pass away, but your home may ultimately end up in the hands of family members you did not want to benefit. To avoid this, within your Will you can explicitly specify what you would like to happen to your property and can leave them a share of the property in your Will, or a right to reside in the property.
4. Inheritance Tax planning
The amount of inheritance tax that will be charged from your estate depends on how much you have, and who you leave it to. Anything left to your spouse or civil partner will be automatically exempt from inheritance tax. Leaving property to your children and grandchildren is also likely to generate a lower inheritance tax bill than leaving it to others. Without a Will in place, your estate may find themselves with a bigger inheritance tax bill. Writing a Will therefore enables you to preserve as much of your estate for your loved ones.
5. Protect your digital assets.
Your assets do not just include physical assets like money in the bank, jewelry, paintings and so on. Digital accounts and online purchases, such as music, photographs, or websites, also form part of your possessions and can disappear into the void if you do not account for them in your Will. Things like emails and social media accounts also form part of your legacy -important things to consider are do you want the information destroyed, protected, and do you need to make passwords available to your executors?
6. Decide who administers your estate.
Within your Will, you can name an executor, or multiple executors, who will oversee carrying out your final wishes. Choosing your executor in advance allows you to select the best person for the task. It also gives the executor warning so they can prepare themselves for their role If you pass away without a Will, the law stipulates who are the most entitled persons to act to administer your estate in a priority order. This may be not up to the role or someone you do not feel is responsible and will carry out your wishes. Writing a Will enables you to choose at the outset people you feel are reliable and who will carry out their role efficiently.
Within your Will, you can specify who you would like to act as guardian of your minor children. This gives peace of mind that if anything does happen to you, your children will be cared for by someone you trust. Without this, the decision could be left to the family courts who may appoint someone as guardian that you would not have wanted to be responsible for your children.
When to write your Will?
Ideally, you should write your Will at the earliest opportunity. In practice, though, people tend to write theirs when they achieve key milestones in life, like buying their first home, getting married or entering a civil partnership or having children. These are the moments in life where you start to accumulate an estate and have dependents for the first time, which may focus the mind on what will happen to them when you are no longer around.
We recommend that all adults should have a Will in place. It makes sense to be organized and is the best way to protect your loved ones when you are no longer around.
If you would like to discuss your Will requirements with one of the team, you can contact us here or on 0808 304 7471.