Don’t disinherit your family by leaving things to chance.
Many people assume if they don’t have a Will, things will just be shared out between their loved ones but there are some instances when this might not be the case. It’s also possible disinherit them without realising it, which makes setting your wishes out in a Will an important decision.
In this article we’re looking at 11 great reasons to get your Will organised.
What’s a Will?
Your Will is a legal document that provides instructions when you die. These instructions are needed to say where your assets are to go and also for more practical matters. You can write as many Wills as you like over your lifetime, it’s only the most recent one you wrote and signed before your death that’s valid.
If you don’t have a Will when you die, your assets are distributed by the laws of intestacy.
This works by looking at your next of kin, so if you’re married with no children, your partner receives everything, if you have children your partner receives the first £250,000 plus possessions and half of the remainder. Your children will receive the rest.
If you’re not married but do have children, everything passes to your children equally. If you don’t have children it goes to your nearest living relative in order of your parents, then your brothers and sisters, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles. If there’s no living relatives everything passes to the crown.
So why do a Will?
The first thing to realise about a Will is that you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for your family, who’ve the responsibility of dealing with your estate and implementing decisions when you’re gone.
Here’s eleven reasons to do a Will:
- To make it clear who you want to be the executor and administrator of your estate - if you don’t instruct this in your Will, your family must work it out between themselves. This can lead to arguments, mistrust and fall-outs even in the tightest knit families, especially when people are grieving and may not be thinking clearly.
- To make probate easier – if you have a Will the process of probate is much simpler and easier. Probate is the legal process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died. Without a Will it takes time and hassle. Why would you want to make it harder for the people you love?
- Funeral instructions – it’s helpful to tell your family how you want to be laid to rest. If you don’t they have to argue between themselves. Aunty Irene thinks you should be buried in a certain ceremony, but your wife is pretty sure you want to be cremated. Uncle Bob thinks it should be a religious service, but your kids think otherwise. It all gets very messy very quickly, again, at a time when people are least able to cope.
- To allow for Property Protector or Savings Protector Trusts – don’t disinherit your children accidentally by allowing your money to be used to fund your surviving partner’s care fees unnecessarily.
- To save them money and heartache – a few hundred pounds spent on a Will now will likely save your family tens of thousands and a lot of heartache when you die. Not doing a Will doesn’t make it go away – it just makes it ten times worse and puts that pressure on your family when they are least able to cope with it.
- To allow your partner to keep living in your home – If your home makes up a high proportion of the value of your estate, your surviving partner might be forced to sell it to fund payments for tax, or your bequests to children and other relatives.
- So as not to give your estate to an estranged spouse – your surviving spouse comes top of the list of beneficiaries if you don’t leave a Will. So, if your marriage has broken down but no divorce has been finalised, your surviving spouse, now your ex, might inherit your estate.
- To avoid paying more tax than necessary – even though anything your spouse (but not an unmarried partner) inherits from you is free from inheritance tax, this is of no help long term. When they subsequently die, the inherited funds just make their estate larger.
- To prevent your spouse’s future partner inheriting your money – it can be easy to disinherit the people you care for the most, or who need your estate the most. If you die intestate while married, your estate passes to your spouse. If they remarry and subsequently die intestate, the estate, which would include yours, will pass to their new spouse, who may pass it on to their own children rather than yours.
- To appoint guardians for your children – If your children are under 18 you need to decide who’ll care for them if you die and make that nomination in your Will. Without it, social services may invite applications from your wider friends and family, which may bring someone forward you wouldn’t have chosen.
- So as not to ignore your unmarried life partner – if you live with someone and you’re not married, they have no automatic right to inherit anything from you if you die intestate.
Ultimately, doing a Will and making sure you don’t die intestate is a good idea for the family you leave behind. It not only makes sure your assets are given to the right people, but that whatever arrangements you’d like are taken care of, alongside preventing any situations that might disinherit your children or other loved ones.
If you’d like to find out whether your Will protects you and your family when you die, get in touch on 01642 52 55 11 and we’ll talk through your options.
Please note: Tax and estate planning services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.