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Let’s face it, none of us like to think too much about dying and planning what will happen to our assets once we’re gone can seem like a laborious and complex task. So it’s hardly surprising that more than half of UK adults, 59 per cent, don’t have a Will.
Put simply, making a Will allows you to choose exactly who gets what after your death. It really is one of the most important financial arrangements you can ever make and could save your loved ones a tremendous amount of trouble and heartache when you die, not to mention cost.
Law & Life draws on the experience of the Private Client Solicitors at Parfitt Cresswell to answer some of the most common questions relating to why and how you should make a Will:
Who will my assets and money go to if I do not make a Will?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a foregone conclusion that your loved ones will get what you’d like them to have if you haven’t made a Will.
The rules of intestacy will apply. For example, following changes to The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, if your Estate is worth more than £250,000 and you are married and have children, then your spouse is likely to receive only the first £250,000, as well as personal chattels and then 50% of whatever is left. The remaining 50% will pass to your children.
If no immediate or more distant relatives are traced, your estate could even end up being passed to the government.
If you are not married, the position is worse because your partner would not be entitled to any of your estate. This means your house, your bank accounts, savings and investments, even your personal possessions such as jewellery, your car and anything else of value, may not go to them. If your partner wishes to receive anything from your estate after your death, an application to the court may be required. This can be a slow and expensive process and create a substantial amount of stress at a very difficult time.
What are the most common trigger points for making a Will?
We often find that getting married, entering a civil partnership, buying a property, or having children, are among the most common factors that drive people to talk to us about making a Will.
Will my estate be liable for inheritance tax?
Inheritance tax is a complex area and really you should speak to an experienced Private Client solicitor for advice that’s relevant to your individual circumstances. However, the current inheritance tax exemption for gifts which are not exempt (for example gifts to spouses or charities) is £325,000 after which the rest of the value of your estate will be charged to inheritance tax at 40%. There are numerous ways to reduce any potential inheritance tax liability which again, would need to be considered carefully in light of individual circumstances.
Does a Will save me money?
In the long-term, absolutely! When making a Will you are potentially saving thousands of pounds after you die on wasted administration costs; for example, by simply stating your beneficiaries’ addresses in your Will you will save time and money instructing a professional to locate them. This logic can be applied to other matters; for example, if you have numerous investments you could save time and money locating them by scheduling them ahead of time.
Who will look after my children if I don’t make a Will?
In your Will you can appoint the appropriate relatives or friends as guardians to look after your children and therefore ensure they are provided with the care, security and support that they will need after you have died. Failure to appoint guardians may lead to unnecessary court proceedings.
Who will administer my estate if I die intestate?
If you die intestate, without making a Will that is, you will have no control over who administers your estate. However, if you have a Will you can state who you wish to act as your executors to do this.
How can I make a Will?
There’s nothing to stop you from writing their own Will, but inexperience could lead to problems for those left behind. There are also ‘online will-writers’; their services may be cheaper but they are also unregulated and therefore there is no guarantee that the advice given is accurate or competent, or even that the will is legally binding. Most banks also offer will writing and execution services to their customers but be careful to read the terms and conditions as sometimes they insist on appointing themselves as one of the executors.
Solicitors who specialise in will-writing are the people best qualified to write and administer a Will. As these issues can prove to be complex, it is very important to seek detailed legal advice and have your Will professionally drafted.
For further advice regarding making a Will, contact us today to speak to one of our experienced Will solicitors – 0800 999 4437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org