It is estimated that two-thirds of people in the UK haven’t prepared a Will, so if you are yet to write one then you are not alone. However, what you may not realise is that without one you have no say in what happens to your estate when you die.
Your Will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die – all of these assets are collectively known as your estate. If you do not leave a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on, which may not be in line with your wishes.
Regardless of your age or health it is important to plan ahead, particularly if you own a property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or you own a business. There are also numerous benefits to having a Will, from ensuring you leave an inheritance to family and friends to potentially reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax that may be payable on your estate.
If you die without having made a Will, the rules of intestacy apply to your estate. These legal regulations will divide your estate in a pre-determined way and, even if you are married, in a civil-partnership or have step-children, assets may not automatically be distributed to the family members you expect to inherit them.
Many people try to write their own Will, using online kits or ‘easy to follow’ guides. However, you should always consider using a professional service as mistakes or a lack of clarity in the Will can result in your wishes being deemed invalid in law. You should review your Will regularly to make sure it still reflects your wishes, such as adding or removing beneficiaries if you change your mind regarding who you wish to inherit your estate. You will also need to update your Will if you get married, enter a civil-partnership or get divorced as a Will is automatically cancelled by these events.
Simon Hancox, Chief Executive at estate administration specialist Kings Court Trust said: “We would always advise members of the public to have a Will in place to ensure they have control over who they wish to inherit their estate. Whilst it is a sensitive subject we would also encourage them to discuss this with their appointed Executors, who will be responsible for finalising their affairs."
He continued, "We recommend that members of the public seek advice from a professional Will Writer to assist them in writing a Will. Unfortunately, we have seen the number of contentious issues around Wills increase over recent years; the level of clarity and professionalism with which a Will is produced should reduce the likelihood of disagreements between beneficiaries which can result in additional cost and delay plus it can cause significant stress to family members at what is an already difficult time.”
This blog was written as part of the ‘Big Conversation’ campaign which is being run by the Dying Matters coalition which is looking to raise the public’s awareness of dying, death and bereavement. To find out more please visit http://www.dyingmatters.org/