Why do I need to make a will now?
November 10, 2020
Shouldn’t it be you who decides?
- Who gets your money and your house?
- Who organises the estate? – this should be someone you trust and they might also be trustees of any money left to your children (including stepchildren)
- When your children should inherit large sums of money? You can set an age – usually between 18 and 25 (but it can be later).
- Who should look after the share of any disabled child?
- Who should look after part of your estate if you’re worried one or more of your children might not be able to handle it themselves, or might be influenced by someone to spend it unwisely?
- Who gets your precious belongings and even your “digital assets” such as photos and documents held in the cloud?
- Who has access to your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts? Your will can include a clause making clear who can deal with your “digital assets” to download your data and close down the accounts.
Most importantly, you can ensure you take care of the people you love and who depend on you.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you have children and you think your spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit all your assets, you are probably mistaken.
If you think your partner or “common law” spouse will get it all, you are definitely mistaken.
These are common myths that mean your loved ones will lose out, unless you act now.
Who will inherit my estate if I don’t have a will?
In England and Wales, the Intestacy Rules (when you don’t have a valid will) state that, if you leave behind a spouse or civil partner, and you don’t have any children, your spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit your entire estate.
But, if you have children, the picture is very different.
In this case, your spouse would receive the first £250,000 but only half of anything above that, with your children getting the rest. Furthermore, the rules only apply to your own children (including those adopted) – any stepchildren would not inherit anything.
Would your spouse be able to manage if part of your estate is held in trust for your children?
If not, they might end up having to make a claim against the estate and asking the courts to award them a bigger share. Litigation like this can make a huge dent in the estate, leaving everyone worse off. You also need to consider that 40% Inheritance Tax is payable on the children’s sum – whereas if it had all gone to your spouse under a will, there would be no tax to pay. One famous example of this was in 2015, when comedian Rik Mayall’s estate was divided between his wife and children, leaving them with a £60k inheritance tax bill!
The Intestacy Rules only apply to married people and civil partners. Legally, there is no such thing as a “common law” wife or husband. This means if you aren’t married at the time of your death, your partner gets nothing and all your estate might go to your children (excluding stepchildren). If you have no children, your partner will see your estate passed to your parents, siblings or even distant cousins.
If you have no relatives, it will become property of the state. Your partner could make a claim against the estate but, again, this would incur a significant cost and additional stress at what is already a difficult time, with no guarantees the claim will even be successful. Of course, we can help with making claims, but would highly recommend making a will instead.
Why do I need to make a will now?
There are always excuses to put off making a will. Many think that it’s something they don’t need to consider until much later in life, or it’s too difficult or expensive. Some people even think it’s tempting fate. it really isn’t any of these things.
The truth is that, although we like to think we’re invincible, we aren’t. Accidents happen all the time. Sadly, even young people are struck down with awful diseases, suffer strokes, or even early onset dementia that leave them unable to make a will.
If you have a long-term partner or children, making a will can offer you peace of mind that they’ll be taken care of if you’re not around.
We can help you do this.
Why use a solicitor for my will?
We are regulated and insured, and we have the necessary legal skills to get it right.
Buying a will from a newsagent or using a “will writer” may be cheaper but you risk it being invalid or containing mistakes that you’re unable to change. These mistakes will be left to deal with by your loved ones, at an already stressful and upsetting time. There is no substitute for peace of mind. Using a legal professional ensures that you can rest assured that your will is legally binding, and you can easily update it at any time should your circumstances change.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.