No one wants to think about dying, so you may have been trying to put it off. Here’s why it’s so important to have a-will…
Why do I need a will?
‘Intestacy rules’ are the pre-determined government rules that dictate how your things would be divvied out if you haven’t made a will. Some are obvious, but many are surprising. So, if you assume your partner or kids would automatically inherit everything when you die, that isn’t necessarily the case.
By writing a will, you could spare your loved ones a lot of heartache and also extra costs in the event of your death.
…and how to write one
There are many books and websites explaining how to do this, although taking proper legal advice might be an easier and safer option as DIY wills, although cost effective, can be risky.
The cost of a basic will is usually between £100 and £300, more for a complex will that protects your assets.
Who gets what?
Ensure that everything is covered, including all personal assets as well as the property you own. You should also make sure your will is kept up to date; you should think about what would happen if your beneficiary died before you? The government has rules that will decide this for you.
People usually choose between one and four executors to deal with their affairs after their death. Make sure they’re people you trust, like family, close friends etc. Check they’re happy to do it, and tell them where your will is stored.
If you jointly own property with anyone, they will automatically inherit it upon your death, regardless of what your will says. If you own property overseas you must tell your solicitor or will writer.
Everyone requires their own will, but some couples make ‘mirror’ wills that reflect the will of the other partner. This may not work though if either of you have children from a previous relationship.
You should decide who would look after your children if you and the other parent are not around. If you are separated parents, it could become difficult if you both choose different guardians. If no guardians are appointed, Social Services may need to get involved. If young children will inherit, you’ll need to appoint trustees to look after their inheritance until they are 18.
If you intend to leave someone out of your will who might otherwise expect to inherit, (for example, an adult child) they could still make a claim on your estate after your death.
It is a good idea to confirm in writing your reasons for leaving them out. If that person later pursued a claim, a judge would decide whether they should be entitled to anything or not.
Getting wills properly signed
A will must be properly signed in front of two adult witnesses, who are aware of what you’re doing. If this is not done, it could be invalid.
Intestacy rules do not acknowledge unmarried partners, no matter how long you have lived together. Similarly, getting married will cancel out an existing will. This can catch people out when it comes to second marriages, and can cause cases of unintentionally disinheriting your children if your spouse then remarries after your death and doesn’t make a new will.
There are ways of drafting your will to make sure your share of the estate is available to your surviving partner to use during their lifetime, but when they die your share passes to your children, even if your partner does remarry.
If you are looking to make a Will and want some further advice, please contact us.
Post courtesy of the Mirror.