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The Importance of Estate Planning

Do you own a house? Shares or investments? Do you have a pension plan or a bank account?

If you have anything at all in your name, estate planning should be an important consideration so you know for certain the right people will inherit your assets when the time comes. In other words, you should have a Will.

11% of those who don’t have a Will believe their estate will automatically pass to the right people when they pass away but this is not necessarily the case.  Assets of those dying without a Will are to be distributed under the laws of intestacy, which could leave stepchildren or unmarried partners out of the equation.

If no next of kin can be found, it may even mean that your money is given to the crown; last year the state received £33.5 million from the estates of people who died intestate.  This could be a result of people's presumption that the assets they own are of insignificant value, deciding that writing a Will is not essential. Other cases may involve Wills that haven’t been updated to reflect the real value of a deceased person's estate, or lack of knowledge as to where the Will has been stored.

In reality, writing a Will and keeping it up to date is just good sense. Estate planning enables you to consider the impact of inheritance tax on your estate and it is principally the only way to ensure that your wishes are recorded and carried out.

If you are part of the 58% that don’t have a Will, it is advisable to think about what impact this may have on your family when you are gone and ensure your loved ones are provided for.  Similarly, if you already have a Will, it is important to keep it updated if your circumstances change; for example, if you get married, buy a property, have children or get divorced, this change should be reflected in your Will or you may run the risk of it being invalid.

64% of people aged 35 to 54 have not prepared a Will yet, while almost a third of those over 55 have no Will.  Many just haven’t got round to it, some are delaying the decision for the time they "get older."  Others are even of the superstitious belief that writing a Will is equal to "tempting fate."

Unfortunately though, you can’t predict when you are going to need a Will. So if you own assets, now is certainly the time to think about writing a Will to ensure both your estate and your family are protected.