Why make a Will?
MAKING A WILL is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you die without making a Will, the consequences could be a lot more serious than you think:
- Your next of kin sometimes won’t know if you have made a Will or not, and will spend time searching for one.
- When they don’t find your Will, they’ll then have to apply to the courts for the power to deal with your estate (assuming it’s worth more than £5,000). This takes a lot longer than the simple process of ‘Applying for Probate’ when you have written a Will.
- In the meanwhile, they’ll have to pay your funeral expenses and (in almost all cases, due to the significant extra delay) pay any Inheritance tax due BEFORE they’ve gained access to your Estate/money (due date is six months after the end of the month in which the death occurred and interest is charged on late payments).
- If you have any children (under 18) and haven’t appointed Guardians (and their mother/father isn’t alive), your next of kin will have to sort this out as well.
- When they finally have access to all of your Estate, it is distributed according to the Laws of Intestacy which in most cases will not be what you want – and any special gifts you wanted to make will be ignored.
During this time your beneficiaries may not be able to draw any money from your estate. It can mean arguments and distress for relatives. Making a Will lets your loved ones know that you cared enough to ‘sort things out’ in advance.
IF YOU are a single person you will want your estate divided amongst relatives, friends and charities of your choosing and in the proportions you want.
IF YOU are married, don’t assume ‘my other half will get everything’. Brothers and sisters or parents may have a claim. Often your children have a right to part of your estate. If you are living as a couple but not officially married, you may be treated as a single person and a surviving partner may get nothing at all. One thing you can be certain of – there will be argument and dispute at a time when the family should be coping with the loss of a loved one.
IF YOU are a parent, you should consider who would look after your children in the event of your death. This is particularly important in the case of one-parent families or unmarried parents living together. A valid Will nominating guardians is invaluable in such cases. If no one knows what you would have wanted, the Court will decide on the future of your children, and it may not be what you would have wished.
IF YOU are retired maybe you made a Will a long time ago. It probably needs updating to include additional grandchildren or deletion of persons you no longer feel you wish to leave anything to.
A Will brings security, reassurance and above all peace of mind – not just for you, but for all those who depend on you, either now or in the future. For more information on your Will, call us FREE on 0800 255 0123 or [click here] for one of our advisers to contact you.
Preparing to write a Will
When planning to make your Will, here are some things you might want to do before you see a Will writing professional.
Think about your estate
- Make a list of everything you own and what it’s worth (assets)
- Deduct any money you owe (liabilities)
- Include any life assurance policies and pension assets (if not already assigned or written in trust)
- Define a ‘working budget’ (the difference between assets and liabilities)
Think about the beneficiaries
- Make a list of who you want to benefit
- Don’t forget to include guardians to care for your children
- Think about wider family and friends
- Think about charities
- Consider how much of your estate you would like each person or group to inherit
- Note any particular items eg jewellery and pictures, that you want to give to specific people
- Note those you don’t want to benefit
Get your paperwork together
- Make a list of your ‘working budget’
- Make a list of the names and addresses of the beneficiaries
- Create a folder containing all the important information
Get expert advice
- Go to a professional organisation to draft your Will
- Choose a Will writer who is a member of a regulated body such as the Society of Will Writers
Appoint your Executors
- Choose people whom you know well and trust
- Think about family members, friends and perhaps a professional person (remember they may want to charge for this service)
- The Will must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses – not beneficiaries or their partners
- If you change your Will, any changes must be signed and witnessed
Review your Will
- Every 3 years
- If you divorce
- If your partner dies
- Your children have children of their own
Keep your Will safe
- It’s important that those who need to can find your Will
- Keep your Will in a safe place