Many people put off making a Will, because they feel they are not at ‘that’ stage in their lives yet. However, no matter what age you are or what your personal circumstances may be – making a Will really is a vital part of planning for the future of your loved ones.
Making a Will is especially important if you have children. It is also the only real way of guaranteeing your wishes are respected after your death.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, many people believe that their spouse will automatically inherit their estate. However, if you die without leaving a valid Will, then your estate will pass under the laws of intestacy which determine which family members will take a share of your estate. Without a Will, efficient tax planning opportunities such as inheritance tax planning and the use of trusts will also be lost.
If you have children under the age of 18, it is essential that you make a Will to appoint guardians to take over parental responsibility in the event that your children are left without a parent. Without an appointed guardian, the Courts may have to decide who looks after your children and your preferences (even if known) may not be taken into account. If you have already made a Will, it is important to ensure that it covers the guardianship of any children born since making the Will.
By making a Will, you can ensure that adequate provision is made for your family. You can choose who is responsible for administering your estate and who will care for your children.
If you do not make a valid Will, the law states what happens to your estate and this is known as the rules of intestacy.
If you haven’t made a Will:
- Your spouse/civil partner may only receive a small part of your estate
- Co-habiting partners, non-blood relatives and friends will not automatically receive any part of your estate
- Children from a previous relationship may miss out on a share of your estate
- Children or grandchildren may receive a share of your estate against your wishes
- Your family heirlooms may pass outside of the family
- If there is nobody entitled under the intestacy rules, your entire estate could pass to the Crown
Further reasons to make a Will:
- To choose who administers your estate
- To appoint a Guardian for your children
- To make specific bequests (gifts) to named persons
- To state any funeral wishes
If you have already made a Will, don’t forget you should check that it still reflects your wishes and the value of your estate. It is recommended you review every 3 years. Circumstances also change; the birth of children or grandchildren, marriage or indeed divorce can result in the need for an amendment to be made.
Source: Flint Bishop Solicitors.