4 Reasons Why You Must Have a Will
Let’s be honest, no-one really wants to think about what will happen after they die!
However, if you do not leave a will this can cause a whole host of complications for your loved ones at a difficult time for them; and could even result in property and possessions not being distributed as you would have wanted them to be.
The creation of will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). If you don’t leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and there is obviously a strong possibility that this may not go as you hope.
Below we have outlined 4 of the most important reasons why you must have a will.
No. 1 – It will make distributing your estate far easier
Creating a will makes it far easier for your family or friends to sort out what can often be complicated arrangements when you pass on.
The process can be hugely time-consuming and stressful, but a will can help to reduce the time and effort that is required.
For more on what may happen if no will is in place, please visit – ‘Who can inherit if there is no will – the rules of intestacy‘.
No. 2 – It will ensure your wishes are carried out
If you do not have a will in place, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law.
If this is the case, there is obviously a very strong chance that this may not result in your possessions and finances being passed to the people that you would want.
So make sure you have a will so that there is no misunderstanding as to what your wishes are, ensure clear instructions enshrined in UK to make sure they are actioned.
For more on dealing with the finances of someone who has died, please click here.
No. 3 – It may reduce the amount of tax payable
A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that could be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind.
For more on Inheritance Tax, please take a moment to visit the excellent Telegraph article – ‘What is the largest estate you can pass on free of inheritance tax?‘ which contains some really important information.
To ensure however that you get the correct information, Independent Financial Advice can be extremely valuable. See the moneyadviceservice.org.uk guide on Choosing a financial advisor.
No. 4 – It is crucial for anyone who is financially dependent
A will is particularly important if you have children or other family members who financially depend on you, for if nothing is in place, there could be severe disruption to your dependants.
The will defines exactly what needs to be done, and for whom, and will minimise the financial disruption.
For some further considerations when making a will, please click here.
What do I need to do?
- Don’t wait – if you do not have a valid will the courts will simply divide your estate the most logical way between your family members. Not only might this not be the way you wish it to be split but having to go through the courts is stressful and time-consuming.
- Think about all eventualities – remember you are writing a will to last a few years so if you have young children you will need to make allowances for as they get older and their needs change.
- Choose an executor – this is the person who will be in charge of organising everything and tying up your estate. Usually, you choose two executors and they can be friends or family members. It is probably wise to talk your choices through with them.
- Make choices about your funeral arrangements – this is your opportunity to make it known, within reason, what kind of funeral you would like, whether you would like to be buried or cremated etc. You executor will do everything they can to uphold your wishes.
Age UK offers some further tips in the following article – ‘Making a Will‘.
Things to look out for
- Make sure your will is legally valid – this is very simple; all you need is a document stating your wishes that are signed and dated by yourself and two witnesses. The witnesses must be independent and not beneficiaries of the will.
- Be careful about small bequests – ask anyone who has been an executor and they will say that one of the hardest things to deal with is when small bequests are made of individual items such as jewellery which then cannot be found. If you would like someone to have something either consider giving it to them now or make sure it is clearly marked in an easy to identify the location.
- Don’t pay unnecessary fees – if you have a complicated will you might want to use a solicitor at a cost of between £150 and £300. If, however, your situation is more straightforward you can use a template from a shop for around £10 or there are many online forms available.
- For much more information about writing and a will and what happens if you don’t please take the time to read the excellent guide on the Money Advice Service website.
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