The sad truth is that health can be unpredictable and if one dies unexpectedly without a will, it could result in uncertainty and financial worry for your dependents. Having a will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your family.
Our highly regarded and experienced solicitors can assist you in planning for your future by preparing a will for you. We understand that the thought of drawing up a will can feel overwhelming which is why our friendly solicitors will guide you throughout the whole process making it as easy and as stress-free as possible.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document which, if executed correctly, sets out how your estate should be handled once you have passed away. For example, it will provide for who inherits your money and belongings, who will be responsible for your children or pets and what you would like to happen at your funeral.
If you pass away without a Will, you will die intestate. This means that your estate will be distributed in accordance with legislation set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (‘AEA’), as amended by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 (‘ITPA’) and this may not be how you had originally intended your personal belongings to be divided or dealt with.
We have set out below some common issues which can be mitigated by having a valid Will in place.
It is always considered important to have a will, especially if you have a child under the age of 18. If you were to pass away and nobody else had parental rights to look after your child, then it is for the court to decide who should raise your child. This tends to be a close relative, but this might not necessarily be the person you would like to have parental responsibility over your child.
Whilst the court is deciding who should care for your child, they will be placed in temporary care.
Creating a will including a guardian clause means that you will be able to nominate the individuals who will raise your child if you were to pass away. It also enables you to make financial provisions for your child. For example, you may have put money aside or want your estate to be used to support your child through education, their career or travelling. You will be able to include a clause in your will that would instruct your child’s guardian to use that money for specific purposes.
Many young people are unaware that if they pass away, their estate will pass to their parents in equal shares. Whilst this might be perfectly acceptable for some people, instances where a parent or parents of young people are estranged from them are not uncommon. If you pass away and you have a parent that you are no longer in contact with, half of your estate will pass to them, if they can be located.
Young people may instead, want someone else to inherit their assets, and as such, a will is necessary to achieve this aim.
Living With a Partner but Not Married or in a Civil Partnership
If you live with a partner who you are not Married to or in a Civil Partnership with, the partner will not automatically inherit your assets upon your death, save for when you hold Property together as Joint Tenants.
Instead, your Estate will devolve to your children, if you have any, or your parents in equal shares if you do not have children.
Inherited or Earned Large Sums of Money
If during your lifetime you have either earnt or inherited large sums of money, you again, may want discretion as to how this is distributed upon your death.
If your inheritance or earnings has taken you above the Inheritance Tax threshold, you may wish to obtain advice as to how to mitigate Inheritance Tax liability upon your death. Measures for this can be included within your will.
By including a clause detailing your funeral wishes in your will, your family can ensure that you have the funeral that you would have wanted. For example, it is becoming increasingly popular to opt for Eco Burials and other arrangements that preserve the environment. Individuals may also have favourite writers or musicians that resonate with them and whose music, lyrics, or poem they would like to be played or recited at their funeral.
If you are married and had a Will prior to your marriage, it is important to note that your marriage will have the effect of revoking any previous will. Therefore, you should consider creating a new will so that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes upon your death.
Whilst it can be tempting to write your own will, there are a number of pitfalls for the untrained eye. Unfortunately, the impact of those pitfalls often does not come to light until it is too late, and this can easily complicate matters for those left behind.
It is also important to keep your will under review from time to time. You should bear in mind the impact of important life events and consider updating your Will as your circumstances are bound to change throughout your life. Events or circumstances that may necessitate an amendment to your Will include births, deaths, divorce, or separation, buying or selling a home and starting or selling a business to name but a few.
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