In these uncertain times our solicitors are receiving a range of queries from people looking to ensure themselves and their loved ones are properly taken care of.
One we hear often concerns making a Will – why should it be done, and just what are the benefits? Here we take a look at five key reasons for ensuring you make a Will and, if you have one already, that it is kept up to date.
1. A Will sets out your wishes following your death
Even now, more than half of UK adults do not have a Will. This is a worrying figure and shows that not enough thought is being put into planning for the future.
A Will should be made as early as possible in adult life, particularly where a person has entered into a relationship, or has married or entered into a civil partnership.
Any time there is a significant change in circumstances – for instance if children come along, or if a couple divorces, a Will should be updated to reflect these important changes.
Simply put, a Will is the best method of ensuring your wishes are carried out upon your death, taking care of everything from children to finances, safeguarding the family home, and even pets.
2. A Will can protect your children
Where children are involved, a Will suddenly becomes an even more important document. A Will allows you to identify who will look after your children and also to plan for their financial wellbeing in the future.
Foster children and step-children can also be provided for. The alternative, where a Will has not been made, could see decisions made by the Family Court, which may not be in line with the parents’ wishes.
3. Consider a Will Trust
A trust can make providing for children that much easier – giving you some control over the finances after you are gone, and avoiding heartache.
A prime example is where the surviving spouse remarries, but makes no provision in their own Will for your children. In this case, the new spouse could end up inheriting the assets.
Such trusts can also be useful to mitigate tax liability and for ensuring that any long-term care a surviving partner may require, is provided for properly.
4. Dying without a Will can cause huge headaches for surviving family members
Dying without a Will is known as dying ‘intestate.’ This will mean that certain rules will decide, and not the deceased, what happens to assets. This is often not what was intended.
Usually a spouse or civil partner will inherit everything, with other family members benefiting depending on who is left behind. Remember, though – unmarried partners and step-children will not automatically inherit anything, which can easily be avoided if a Will is made.
Dying without a Will can cause major arguments among surviving relatives if they believe they haven’t been adequately provided for under the intestacy rules.
Making a Will also allows you to choose an executor – the person you trust, and believe is best-suited to administer an estate.
5. Use a solicitor
It is possible to have a Will prepared by going online or to an unregulated company instead of a solicitor, but using a solicitor provides added protection as they are fully regulated and insured in the unfortunate event of something going wrong.
There has in recent years been an increase in the number of Wills which are contested, many of which relate to Wills which have not been correctly prepared which can then up costing a lot of money and time to put right.
Taking professional advice in preparing a Will can ensure that not only are your wishes set down in the correct way, but at the same time the reasons behind those wishes can also be correctly recorded, which is often where disputes can arise – for instance the high profile case of the lady who left her significant estate to an animal charity rather than her family.
For further advice on making or updating a Will, or any other asset planning matter, call Stephen Parr on 01706 213356 or email him at email@example.com