Jo Tinson, Partner at Spire Solicitors LLP, discusses the importance of making a Will.
The importance of making a Will can for some be overlooked, only thought about in the event of an upcoming holiday or ill health. Many have good intentions of making their Will, but put it off in the midst of other distractions.
There are a number of reasons why making a Will is so important. These include:
- It is an opportunity to provide for what it is you want to happen on your death. In the absence of a valid Will, a set of legal rules, known as the Intestacy Rules apply. These Rules stipulate who will receive your assets and it may not be what you had hoped. The effect of the Rules may cause disagreements between the family members left behind. It can also make the administration of your estate more complicated.
- With a Will you can appoint legal guardians to care for your underage children and to provide a mechanism for ensuring that those guardians can access your estate to maintain your children to the standard you would expect.
- A Will is an effective opportunity to consider tax planning particularly for inheritance tax and capital gains tax purposes. Your advisor can consider with you what tax would be payable as a result of your death and by whom it is payable. Furthermore they can consider with you any options to limit a tax liability.
- In an age where there are numerous types of family structure, your Will can be a helpful way to balance the needs and circumstances of all your beneficiaries. An example would be a second marriage where you have children from your first marriage. There are a number of mechanisms you can include in your Will to provide for your new spouse whilst seeking to protect your estate for your children.
- In addition, a Will can provide for vulnerable beneficiaries such as disabled adults or children. It might be that they are unable to manage an outright monetary gift without help or support and your Will can put this structure in place for their ongoing benefit.
There is often the temptation to seek a self-written Will, perhaps from a stationer. Whilst a Will can on the face of it seem simple, there are a number of pitfalls for the untrained eye. Unfortunately the impact of those pitfalls often do not come to light until it is too late. This can lead to difficulties for those left behind.
It is also important to keep your Will under review from time to time. There are a number of changes in your circumstance where the effect of the change on your Will should be considered. These changes include divorce or separation, buying or selling a home, starting a business or having children.
If you would like to make a Will or would like to review the terms of your existing Will, we would be happy to discuss with you further.