Many people think that making a Last Will and Testament is something you only need to think about in the later stages of life. Others may not ever consider writing a Will at all.
However, a Will is vital for legally protecting your wishes, legacy and loved ones in the event of your passing. We strongly recommend drawing up a Will to safeguard your property or assets, and to provide financially for your spouse or civil partner, or children.
Why is it important to make a Will?
There is a compelling list of reasons why you should make a Will. Below are a few key examples:
- The person that you appoint as your Executor can make decisions about your Estate immediately after your death. This will facilitate the process and make it much simpler and quicker for your loved ones to make arrangements at a very difficult time.
- If you have children who are under the age of 16, then through your Will you are able to nominate legal Guardians and make financial provisions for your children. In the event of the death of both parents, you can rest assured their future welfare is secure.
- If you have any relatives or friends who are financially or legally dependent upon you in some way, your Will enables you to make provisions to bequeath an appropriate part of your Estate to your dependant.
- You may also be able to use provisions in your Will to save your family paying unnecessary Inheritance Tax at the time of your death.
A properly drawn up Will gives you real peace of mind. You can make provisions for your partner and family, and rest safe in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out.
If you do not have a will, your assets including your personal possessions, cash, bank accounts, investments, pensions, and property will default to the rules of Intestacy.
What is Intestacy?
If you do not make a Will then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. It’s important to note that Intestacy does not always distribute assets in the most tax efficient way, and it does not legally recognise individuals that co-habit, no matter the duration or type of relationship.
In some circumstances this can cause a great deal of distress for those who are left behind, and can sometimes cause hardship.
Intestacy allows for your Estate to be passed onto your spouse and blood relations. In England and Wales this includes your spouse, children including legally adopted children, siblings including any half-siblings who both share a parent with you, as well as your parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts (full blood), uncles or aunts (half blood). It excludes stepchildren and your partner if you co-habit.
Intestacy requires an Administrator to act on behalf of your estate and may require a ‘Letter of Administration’ in order for them to prove they have the legal right to deal with the estate.
Naturally, the biggest problem with Intestacy is that someone you wish benefit with part of your estate, like an unmarried partner, may get nothing if a Will has not been put in place!
Worse still, your estate may pass onto someone, who in life, you weren’t comfortable with inheriting your assets.
A properly drafted Will by our Solicitors can make sure your wishes are honoured and the people you want to provide for will be a named Beneficiary on your Estate.
Why use a Solicitor to write your Will?
A Will drawn up by us, or a Solicitor, can address who the Beneficiaries are in a clear, effective and more importantly a legally valid way.
Second marriages can present unique inheritance dilemmas, for spouses and children, and in these cases you should always seek advice from a Solicitor.
And if you have complicated assets, like businesses, property overseas, multiple investments, like bonds, pensions, ISAs, or stocks it’s best to consult a professional.
The reason is, when it comes to dividing your estate, only the known assets will can be divided if left out your Beneficiaries may struggle to claim it.
During the meetings in our Estate Planning Service we’ll go through all of your assets, beneficiaries and will tailor an inheritance solution that works for you!
We can also advise you on the best way to handle Inheritance Tax through the provisions in your Will.
What is a DIY Will and should I use one?
A ‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) Will can be downloaded off the Internet sometimes for suspiciously cheap prices, but all too often these types of Wills can create far more problems than they solve!
There are a number of common flaws and shortcomings associated with DIY written Wills, which include (but aren’t limited to):
- It may not ensure that your instructions are properly carried out
- It may not take into account all of your assets (money and property)
- It may not account for situations where the Beneficiary or the Executor dies before the person making the Will
- It may be found to be invalid
- for lack of witnessed changes
- rules of relating to dependents
- failing to meet formal requirements
- It may not properly account for current Inheritance Tax regulations
It is essential that your Will is properly prepared and regularly updated by a qualified, professional Solicitor to avoid any confusion, minimise disputes, and ensure your wishes are completely carried out in the event of your passing.
As authorised and regulated Solicitors, at Farleys Solicitors LLP we can advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances, as well as the best ways to leave your assets to family or loved ones.
And remember, any discussion you have with a Solicitor on these matters is completely confidential.